I always get a big kick out of the kind of commercials shown during the time when most people are at work. Apparently, the target audience is people who have crashed their car, are out of work, have menopause, need fast cash now, etc. Which, if you’re at home from 10-3, there’s a good chance you fall into one of those categories.
I guess I should be used to this: when I watch sports in primetime on TV, I’m constantly reminded to drink more beer and take my Viagra. But the quality of those commercials seems just so much better than these. I’m sick of the grainy-no-sound-”I can’t believe we can get paid to make video games!” advertisement.
And, I wouldn’t really have a problem with it. Advertising is advertising. But the number of law commercials during the soap-hours is absurd. Every 3 commercials, John “for the people” Morgan reminds me that if I’ve been injured, I may be entitled to compensation. I guess my beef is this: If you choose your lawyer based on their television advertisement, that’s pretty vile. You should, in my opinion, choose a lawyer because they’re the best. You almost certainly wouldn’t choose a doctor because they’ve got the flashiest ad campaign, would you? (Even for popular outpatient surgeries, you’d maybe have an idea of who to go to, but you’d probably consult with your own primary care physician first.)
Ah, but the best lawyers are the ones who have money to advertise, right? Well, not exactly. The best lawyers are the ones with the most money, that’s true, but that doesn’t mean they’re the best. That just means they charge the most. And, really, what defines a good lawyer? (Let’s ignore the obvious “a dead one” joke.) Total number of cases? Total number of cases won? Both of those can be bumped up through higher inventory. Percentage? 1 case won out of 1 is an excellent average, but you probably wouldn’t go with them. Years of experience? I’d bet that the track record stays the same, or improves slighty, over time. A ratio of cost and cases won? We could come up with baseball-like statistics for lawyers. (Which, come to think of it, why hasn’t someone done that already? Think of the bar arguments: “Johnny Cochran hit a lifetime .898 with a lifetime ACPC of $120,000. The man’s a legend. It’s why he’s in the hall-of-fame.” Think of the trading cards. Think of the fantasy law teams.)
Odds are, you probably pick your lawyer for the same reasons you pick a doctor, a carpenter, or a plumber: based on word-of-mouth. I honestly wouldn’t know how people pick these things: My doctor’s been set for more-or-less life, and I’ve never needed the other three. (I guess that’s true for anyone: if you’ve got a parent in a service-based business, you’re set.) But if I needed a lawyer, I’d probably ask one of my friends or neighbors before tuning into All My Children or picking one out of the phone book.
In fact, why do we have TV commercials in the first place, and why is advertising so pervasive? I guess, since word-of-mouth is so strong, advertising serves as the initial gateway into understanding a product or service. I’m certainly not going to seek out a Burger King and demolish a Monster Omelete sandwhich unless someone I trust tells me it’s really good, or I can get one for free. I may decide between the ATI or the NVidia graphics card, but I’m going to ask someone I know before making up my mind. I assume most people are the same, waiting for the advice of a trusted person (or, in the case of internet review sites, persons) before seeking out the product and (hopefully) making an opinion for yourself.
This leads us to the ultimtate question: who are the people who try a product first? In many cases, these people are paid to try these things either by the distributor itself, or more commonly, by an independant company, such as movie critics and their affiliated newspapers. In the case of the former, the opinion itself is rarely trusted (unless the link between distributor and reviewer is blurred, such as the current radio payola set-up); in the latter case, the review is trusted by people who are interested in that genre of products.
But I’m digressing. The point is: who’s the first to try a lawyer or doctor? And maybe here, the only way is advertising. But I don’t think so. Usually, unless you’re backed by a large law firm or large medical group, you lack the necessary funds to advertise en masse. (I suppose the cost of an ad in the classified section is small and acceptable, though.) Perhaps your friends and neighbors will direct clients your way, but if you’re a new urologist in town, you’re probably not going to have friends who can help. And I guess this reason is why so many doctors and lawyers are connected with large groups in their field to start.
Interesting. I’m not really sure where I’m going with this. So I’ll stop here.