QualitySolicitors TV Adverts and The Apprentice

By | April 9, 2012

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.


8 Comments

Steven Mather on 09/04/2012 at 8:26 pm.

Actually matters little what us lawyers think; it’s the public that count.

Will they use a brand because they’ve spent £14m on adverts? Maybe. But it doesn’t answer the bigger problems facing law firms.

When co-op can market into everyone with bank accounts, funerals, shops, etc they have a much bigger reach. BT could easily and cheaply market into their 20m customer base.

Does advertising buy trust? I’m not sure it does. 85 years in practice (like m place) gets trust. But then to get new clients or be more profitable we must drive the market not be driven.

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Damian on 09/04/2012 at 8:53 pm.

Personally, I don’t think Quality Solictors is a winning formula anyway. A number of the firms I have seen join are exactly the ones who I think are going to struggle anyway, whether or not they buy into this franchise scheme.

I can’t see them making much headway. You’ll soon find that the “huge injection” of cash dries up as they see little return on their cash – the investor and the concept “Quality Solicitors” have got it wrong.

That sounds pessimistic but I’m just being honest and realistic.

Who names a law brand after a box of chocolates anyway ? And not even quality chocolates.

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Richard Pettet on 09/04/2012 at 10:11 pm.

Just to follow up on the quote attributed to me up top, my point was that in mimicking the John Lewis style so closely, QS have not really created a brand identity in their own right. It’s all very well it being impressive by law firm standards but does that resonate with the public? Someone pointed out on a thread I started on Defero that most comments on YouTube seemed to be about the song. Another point is that John Lewis really does live up to what the adverts promise. Does going into a WHSmith and talking to a cardboard box live up to the QS ad? See…..I’m not a knocker.

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Miriam Said on 10/04/2012 at 3:50 am.

I think Quality Solicitors are playing a rather awesome marketing game here and neither team should be fired.

Both of the adverts are targeted to specific clientel groups.

The first, cartoon like advert is targeted to the general, wider audience.
It tells us about Quality Solicitors and that those Legal Firms that become franchises for Quality Solicitors are chosen by the customers and that instills a sense of comfort and re-assurance to people who have not yet had the need for the services of a Legal Firm or those potential clients who may have had a bad experience with another Legal Firm in the past. I really liked this advert as it didn’t fill me with a sense of gloom and doom. I felt like it was a sort of a hello advert, saying here we are if you need us and we only partner with Law Firms that you choose and our customers are our focus.

The second, more business like advert is clearly targeted at a more specific customer, those that are more likley to be thinking of taking some form of legal action or setting up a business.
There seems to be a more sombre mood to this advert with an underlying current of urgency and also a lot of emotive matters that may have to be legally dealt with.

What bothered me in this second advert was the hazy, possibly beautiful, smartly suit clad woman in skirt and high heels. It felt like I was somehow secretly stalking her and that she had no real identity. She felt detached from me and I did not connect with her, nor did I identify with any of the visual stories of woe portrayed in this advert.
Overall the second ad seemed to be unfocused and not a hello advert, more like a “you’re in a pickle and we are lurking about in the backround waiting for you to beg us for some help, but we’ll make you feel uncomfortable about it and not re-assure you of our standars or that we really care about you”

The second advert did make me feel emotionally sad, possibly worried for those people having a hard time, so in that respect it did make me think of bad things that could happen and that I may need help to resolve those instances legally.

In short, I did not emotionally connect with anything in the second advert, but I did connect with the first, more cheerful ad. The first ad was definatley a “hello, this is who we are” and the second ad was a “Stuff happens, we can deal with all of the situations shown and we’re really professional about it”

Smart move Quality Solicitors. Covering your bases by saying something in a cheerful voice to get a friendly wave back, then turing around to the professional guy sitting next to you and discussing his soon to be third wife’s pre-nuptual agreement and overseeing his new will.

Touche.

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James Anderson on 10/04/2012 at 9:53 am.

I have to say, standing back for a moment, the marketing by QS is simply in a different league to anything else in the legal world. I suppose that’s to be expected given their newfound ‘wealth’, but nevertheless they should be congratulated. Somehow they have create adverts that defy the automatic ‘negative’ response in the public towards anything to do with us lawyers! Personally, I think the new ad is light years ahead of the old one – I love it and don’t think there is any question of it being too subtle. The people on YouTube referred to above must have searched for (and therefore remembered) qualitysolicitors to be able to find the clip to commented at all. For an ad to get that many views at all means it must be resonating with the public in a big way. I think the more important point is whether QS can live up to the expectations the ad creates? I’d be anticipating great things having seen that ad – and I’m not sure any law firm, QS or otherwise, is so skilled in ‘client experiece’ as to not risk disappointing such high expectations. Still, as an advert, i think it is top draw and I’m glad I (as opposed to Co-op etc) don’t have to follow it!

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Syd Harris on 09/05/2012 at 3:38 pm.

OK, not bothered about solicitors or Sugar and co, but the song is interesting !! any body know who and or what it is!!?

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