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August 20, 2014

New Trend in Legal Advertising: “Not” Celebrity Endorsements

by John Phillips

Under Florida Bar Rule 4-7.15, Unduly Manipulative or Intrusive Advertisements, the Florida Bar prevents an advertisement which “contains the voice or image of a celebrity, except that a lawyer may use the voice or image of a local announcer, disc jockey or radio personality who regularly records advertisements so long as the person recording the announcement does not endorse or offer a testimonial on behalf of the advertising lawyer or law firm.”  The Rule further explains, “A lawyer or law firm advertisement may not contain the voice or image of a celebrity. A celebrity is an individual who is known to the target audience and whose voice or image is recognizable to the intended audience. A person can be a celebrity on a regional or local level, not just a national level. Local announcers or disc jockeys and radio personalities are regularly used to record advertisements. Use of a local announcer or disc jockey or a radio personality to record an advertisement is permissible under this rule as long as the person recording the announcement does not endorse or offer a testimonial on behalf of the advertising lawyer or law firm.”

We are seeing a disturbing trend with this Rule.  As I was watching footage of a news story, up pops former Florida Gator and NFL Running back Fred Taylor in an ad for Florida lawyers, Berman and Berman, and #28 wants you to call him if someone dies:

Fred Taylor also wants you to call him if you need a divorce:

As the advertiser says, BUT WAIT. THERE’S MORE!

Berman & Berman also tout their representation of Tara Reid and announce her new fragrance.  I am sure her job offer will be coming as soon as Sharknado III makes her as big of a star as Fred Taylor.tara reid

berman

So, I guess any lawyer may HIRE a famous celebrity and avoid Rule 4-7.15, too?  Could “Dewey, Cheetam and Howe” hire Justin Timberlake to handle client development and Shaq to handle private investigations?  I’d love to see that ad.  Might a lawyer give Matthew McConaughey a job just to say, “alright, alright, alright” and deliver checks to clients at the end? That’s an ad I’d like to see.

BUT WAIT. THERE’S EVEN MORE!

Remember Sweet Brown?  Watch the video that made her famous:

Well, Texas lawyer Brian Loncar jumped on it.  Granted, the Texas Bar doesn’t have a specific Rule preventing it like Florida does, but that doesn’t take away the bad taste of the following:

What about hiring Antoine Dodson? I can hear it now, “hide your kids, hide your wife” because (insert firm name here)’s family lawyers will take everything.

BUT WAIT. ORDER NOW AND THERE’S EVEN MORE!

tonight showIt doesn’t just apply to humans.  Jacksonville lawyers Farah and Farah have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to sponsor the Jacksonville Jaguars and its lovable mascot.  What do they get in return?  The great mascot Jaxson DeVille appears in advertisements and photos with them, they get to give away tickets to games, tout their unique access, and otherwise get to film advertisements in the depths of the Jaguars’ facilities.  In return, Farah has photos of the mascot doing kegstands on its pinterest page and can seemingly tout its endorsement of, and from, the town’s prized team.  This is to say nothing about their photoshopped television appearances on social media.

 

Morgan and Morgan acquired a former (and possible future) Governor, but hey, he was a lawyer, so giving a lawyer a job at a law firm is about as legitimate as it gets, right?  We aren’t even going to analyze that one, but were chastised for leaving it out. It’s different.

ACT NOW!

We hope people seeking legal advice will act now and research their lawyers carefully.  What is their rating on Martindale.com? Is their firm using gimmicks and millions of dollars to bring clients in?  If so, what do you get in return?  Is a lawyer there to personally sign up your case?  Will the lawyer give you a sample closing statement to show you an estimate of what costs will be?  Are you in for a surprise?

I have almost never have ordered anything off of the television with a paid endorsement that I was glad I ordered- the George Foreman Grill possibly excluded.  Then again, I understood that George probably wasn’t exactly using it regularly, either.  And those days are long gone as I have chosen more quality grilling options.  You should, too.

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