QualitySolicitors TV Adverts and The Apprentice

Karren Brady, Lord Sugar and Nick Hewer - The Apprentice

Now, Craig Holt (Impecunious) and Craig Holt (Equitus) one of you will be fired!

QualitySolicitors recently launched their new ‘John Lewis style’ TV advert during the ‘Dancing on Ice’ final. This is part of a £15 million advertising campaign following Palamon Capital Partners investing a ‘significant’ sum of private equity in QualitySolicitors that saw it gain a majority shareholding in the company. There has been a fair bit of debate in legal circles about this latest advert but not much, if any, mention about how it compares to their original ‘Lloyds TSB style’ TV advert which was launched during ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’ way back in 2010. Indeed many commentators appear to have forgotten that such an advert ever existed with this latest advert being made out to be a ‘first’.

The creation of TV adverts for a new brand always makes me think of ‘The Apprentice’. Usually in each series there is an episode where Lord Sugar gets each team to create a new brand and make a TV advert to launch it. Here is a condensed example of such an episode from series 6:-

So let’s look at QualitySolicitors two TV adverts Apprentice style.

We have two teams: Impecunious (representing the QualitySolicitors brand before it obtained that Private Equity investment) and Equitus (representing the QualitySolicitors brand after it obtained that Private Equity investment).

Team Impecunious produced this TV advert, ‘chosen by you’:-

Now it still would have cost a fair bit to produce that advert and a slot during ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’ would not have come cheaply. But with a good bit more capital behind them and the assistance of Saatchi & Saatchi we have Team Equitus who produced this TV advert, ‘for whatever life brings’:-

In the Boardroom we have Lord Sugar viewing both adverts and listening to his trusted advisers.

Chosen by you

Some views Lord Sugar may hear on the effort by Team Impecunious:-

Defero Law:-

There’s something rather Orwellian about their TV advert. A sinister Pixar styled minx travels around what looks like northern England in a balloon coercing small law firms into becoming part of the franchise.

A chilling vision of the future….

Mark Ford:-

A TV advert that, quite frankly, scares me

James Hayden:-

I disagree with Mark. Whilst the TV ad is not to my personal taste, I can actually see it being quite successful in attracting a public who are generally apprehensive about lawyers. It is a nice difference to the usual aggressive PI ad.

Neil Rose (LegalFutures):-

I have to say I was impressed… what I really liked was the message that firms only become (and presumably stay) QS members if they get the thumbs-up from their clients – ‘Chosen by you’ is the tagline…

I suspect that I am getting a bit overexcited by the advert simply because it is streets ahead of anything I can think of that came before from any other law firm or claims company. But then, given that to date advertising of legal services has generally been utterly woeful, this is to damn with faint praise.

Duncan Finlayson:-

I really do feel that QS are to be congratulated on an advert which manages to avoid all of the usual legal symbols and stereotypes whilst still putting across a message which is comfortingly traditional. Its slight similarity to the Lloyds TSB adverts adds familiarity without in any way detracting from what is, for lawyers, a unique event.

David Gilroy:-

The ad’s good. Amanda Holden was just about recognisable but without “seeing” her I wonder if she added much “value” to the advert in terms of brand association compared to a (I assume) cheaper “voiceover artist”.

Mike Massen:-

Seems that the current vogue for cgi large headed people in advertising continues apace… Not sure of the overall message given; there seems to be minimal information as to services available and seems more of a puff piece for the firms involved.

For whatever life brings

Turning now to the latest QualitySolicitors advert by Team Equitus what might Lord Sugar hear about that?:-

Neil Rose (LegalFutures):-

A TV advert for legal services the like of which I certainly haven’t seen before, a world away from the “Had an accident in the last three years?” genre…

It was a bit corny but I liked it. The shared moment between the mourning woman and the expectant mother is particularly well played.

Richard Pettet:-

I’m not a QS knocker but the advert was not great. Maybe it was a teaser with more to come but I don’t feel that the brand is given enough exposure.

Ray McLennan:-

I like what QS are doing to shake up the legal services market and I like this advert. It may take a while for them to take a firm grip of the market, but this advert certainly makes a firm statement and goes some way towards achieving that.

I do agree that as a standalone advert it runs the risk of being “good viewing” and the name of the advertiser could be lost, but all advertising scores in the timing. But the advert is probably aimed at the QS members and potential members as well as the great buying public and in that result it absolutely works.

Rory MccGwire:-

I think the ad is right on the money. It’s a classy, interesting, subtle set of visuals that leaves the viewer to work out what is going on. Does it lead to people remembering and trusting this radically new brand that reveals itself at the end? Yes it absolutely does, especially as this is just the opener and there is much more to come.

Martin Coyne:-

On a first viewing I believed the ad was directed at recruiting solicitors, not the public. The problem QS has is that they have no yardstick to show the public why they provide quality, and how that quality is maintained. I felt the placing of the ad was a huge waste of investors money, and it did not transmit to the public a clear message.

Graham Laing:-

Advert reminded me of a sanitary towel advert. From a marketing & advertising perspective prime time TV advertising has always been about reinforcing ‘well known’ brands (ie Cadburys/Coronation Street) and not introducing the new. Its the time when people make tea and as such no calls to action are usually advised. Seems strange to have pitched it at this time.

Natasha Young:-

I thought it was a truly superb advert – for the very reasons a couple of the people above thought otherwise. Thoughtful, subtle – it was a breath of fresh air in legal marketing. I watched it with my teenage children and husband and everyone felt moved by it and no-one failed to remember who or what it was for.

Paul Hajek:-

The new advert is a breath of fresh air and inclusive: hitherto members of the great British public may be forgiven for feelings of ostracism for not numbering amongst those who have suffered an accident at work or been sold a duff policy within the last three years.

Jon Bloor:-

QS ad seems like good promotion for the profession, but no real message as to what is meant to differentiate QS firms?

Almost like something the Law Society could / should have put out?

Louise Restell:-

On the whole I don’t get emotional about adverts, unless they are for John Lewis, which, I believe, are designed to induce sobs from even the hardest of hearts.

So it’s quite an achievement for Quality Solicitors to leave me all misty eyed after viewing their latest offering.  The new 90-second advert manages to transform the usual law firm image of middle-aged men speaking in a language the rest of us don’t understand and charging us a lot of money for something we’ve been told we need into a compassionate companion for life.

Jordan Furlong:-

The commercial is designed to be a moving, evocative and memorable viewing experience, something that touches you and stays with you. Watch it and tell me if you found it effective. Then tell me how many times it mentioned or suggested expertise, experience or excellence…

With few exceptions, lawyer-formulated or lawyer-approved marketing campaigns focus on lawyers’ qualifications and accomplishments. That would make sense if we were selling our services to each other, but we’re not. The QS ad succeeds precisely because it appeals to what consumers will respond to, not lawyers. You’d think that would be elementary, but for the legal profession, this kind of insight seems almost revelatory.

Fired or Hired?

Lord Sugar: "You're Fired!"

"You're Fired!"

Lord Sugar likes it to be clear what adverts are about and would not want to overspend on them even although he has said:-

I’ve written books on advertising. You might not find them for sale on the Internet, cos they’re cheque books – big fat cheque books!

Lord Sugar has also said about advertising for Amstrad:-

Our advertising style reflects my own style: it tends to be straightforward and ‘in your face’.

So I reckon Lord Sugar would, on balance, fire Team Equitus and hire Team Impecunious.

Craig Holt, however, no longer thinks that the Team Impecunious approach is the right one. As Craig has said:-

Successful adverts should be subtle and intriguing not stamping phone numbers and logos all over them – it is for exactly the same reason the recent John Lewis advert was so successful. It didn’t shout at people, it told a story that people emotionally connected with and took on a life of its own as a result.

Craig Holt may well be right. But is this perhaps more likely to be true in respect of an established brand rather than a new one? The proof of the pudding will be in the eating. With 8,000 advertising slots apparently booked for May alone the new advert is likely to be seen more than once by a large proportion of the English & Welsh population (assuming it will not be aired in Scotland where there are currently no QualitySolicitor member firms). Perhaps, however, the first advert should have received greater exposure before QualitySolicitors moved onto a second one. I am not sure how many slots that advert had, if indeed it was more than one. In any event the QualitySolicitor member firms will be banking on it not being a case of “whatever life brings” but a case of the new advert actually delivering real results for them.

What do you think?

Would you fire Team Impecunious or Team Equitus?

Note: My law firm, Inksters, became, in May 2009, the founding Scottish Member firm of QualitySolicitors. This was before QualitySolicitors became the branded organisation that it is today. We decided not to rebrand as QualitySolicitors Inksters but instead left QualitySolicitors and are building our own unique brand Inksters. I believe that QualitySolicitors could be a good fit for certain high street law firms but was no longer the correct direction for Inksters to pursue. My comments on this blog are not related in any way to Inksters one time membership of QualitySolicitors and if considered in any way to be critical should be taken in the constructive sense.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

8 Responses to "QualitySolicitors TV Adverts and The Apprentice"

  • Damian says:
  • Miriam Said says:
  • James Anderson says:
  • Syd Harris says:
Leave a Comment