Attack Ads: Three Reasons Why Lawyers Should Refrain

by Kelly Hays | July 28, 2016

This is a close up photo of a businessman punching towards the camera. The focus is on the glove and falls off in the background.There are similar images in the lightbox below:

During the political season, our TVs are plastered with ads supporting one candidate and knocking down the next. Attack ads are common practice in politics, and they’re starting to become a trend in lawyer advertising as well. In fact, according to Bloomberg, money spent on attack ads by law firms is expected to increase by 300% just from last year.

At cj Advertising, we advise you to stick with our proven approach to lawyer advertising and not get caught up in fleeting trends that have permanent repercussions.

Attack ads put a bad taste in our (and everyone’s) mouths. We’ve never been fans of lobbing advertising grenades at your competition—and for good reason!

  1. In an attack ad, the content is focused solely on your competitor. Instead of furthering your brand, it draws attention to the other firm (on your dime) and reflects poorly on your values.
  2. Directly criticizing a competitor can start a feud that is unwinnable and unending. Again, that seems like wasted time and money that could be spent promoting who you are as a firm and strengthening your brand.
  3. Burning bridges could ruin future opportunities for collaboration and referrals. Even a sour relationship can suddenly turn sweet over an unexpected partnership. But that probably won’t happen if you’ve become the enemy of your market by employing smear tactics!

We’re not saying to be a pushover. In more than 20 years of making lawyer ads, we’ve seen our creative content get ripped off and attacked in about every way imaginable. Sometimes a subtle shot across the bow is understandably warranted. And in serious cases of trademark infringement, we’re proactive about going after poachers and protecting our trademarks. But overall, we feel it’s important to keep a civil relationship with your competitor—no matter how much they drive you crazy.

At cj Advertising, our creative team focuses our energy on your brand and making your firm look its best against competitors. We begin our creative campaigns with a review of your market and brainstorm how to position you as unique. In our opinion, leave the attack ads to the politicos.  They’re counterproductive and only serve to undermine the momentum a positive campaign will engender.