Five Law Practice Takeaways from Super Bowl LVII
Super Bowl LVII provided four quarters of an action-packed, fast-paced sports battle and demonstrated some valuable legal marketing lessons you may have missed between the hot wings and seven-layer dip. By now, you’ve either celebrated or uttered a few curse words. Now it’s time to review the key takeaways that can help your law practice thrive like a champion.
The Super Bowl is one of the country’s largest sporting and entertainment events that captivate millions of fans and serves as a platform for companies to showcase their brand, products, and services. And this year, big game advertisers wasted little time eagerly building audience buzz ahead of the annual football competition between the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs by kicking off their commercials early.
The Power of Storytelling
The Super Bowl commercials are some of the most watched — and talked about— ads of the year. The best of them often have a solid narrative element where branding is vital. By telling a compelling story and investing in a strong brand identity, companies can connect with their audience on an emotional level and leave a lasting impression.
The Farmer’s Dog made its Super Bowl ad debut with a tearjerker called “Forever,” which follows the story of a little girl and her pup as they grow up together. Law firms can connect with clients emotionally by telling stories about how they helped past clients, highlighting their commitment to social justice issues, or simply showing a more human side of the firm through their public relations and marketing efforts.
The Importance of Timing
The Super Bowl is a prime opportunity for companies to reach a large and diverse audience. After all, more than 100 million people tuned into America’s biggest party. Still, it’s also a costly and high-stakes environment where every second counts. As a result, businesses need to ensure that their messages are delivered at the right time, in the right format, and in a way that resonates with their target audience.
Take Rihanna, for instance, who took to the stage for the first time in seven years for the halftime performance and revealed a surprising baby bump. Social media immediately began speculating about whether the 34-year-old superstar was pregnant again (she is).
Rihanna told the media on Sunday, “When you become a mom, there’s something that just happens where you feel like you could take on the world — you can do anything.”
“And the Super Bowl is one of the biggest stages in the world, so as scary as that was, there’s something exhilarating about the challenge of it all,” she said. “It’s important for my son to see that.”
The key takeaway here: know your audience, meet them where they are, and be creative and authentic in your messaging. Rihanna’s announcement was public relations gold. Law firms can learn a lot from this by creating clear and concise messaging on their websites, press releases, agency announcements, podcasts, blogs, and social media posts. This means using language that is easy to understand, avoiding legal jargon (or providing an explanation in more straightforward terms) and overly complicated visuals, and focusing on the key benefits that clients will receive by working with the firm. Then, share the messages at times and in places where your target audience will hear it.
The Super Bowl is crowded, with dozens of ads vying for our attention during the big game. However, the most successful commercials — which run about $7 million for a 30-second elevator pitch — stand out and are remembered long after the event.
The good news is law firms don’t have to fork out $7 million to be memorable. By creating unique and authentic messaging that people will remember, law firms can build brand recognition and stand out in a crowded market. For example, law firms can target a specific audience with key messages about a specialized practice group or create a podcast with tips for clients.
And law firms should never be afraid to use humor — albeit with discretion — it’s possible to be funny, memorable, and authentic in a professional manner that’s appropriate for the legal profession.
We can learn a lot from Bradley Cooper and his sassy mom, Gloria Campano, who savagely mocked her famous son’s loser status in T-Mobile’s Super Bowl ad.
Bradley Cooper: “I think I know what I’m doing. I’ve been nominated nine times!”
Bradley’s mom: “Yeah, but you never won any.”
Cooper, donning a pink company uniform shirt, was tasked with selling his mom a cellphone. According to Ad Age, the pair was originally supposed to follow a commercial script before Campano hilariously began to ad-lib spontaneous one-liners. Neither star or his mom could keep a straight face.
I’m betting this organic and entertaining clip resonated with every parent in America – and especially all of Philadelphia Eagles fans since the Coopers are Philly natives. While the “America’s largest 5G network” wasn’t big and loud, the mother-son duo banter was memorable, authentic, and real. Law firms, take note.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Show Me, Don’t Just Tell Me
When it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion, actions speak louder than words. Mexican flag football quarterback Diana Flores, flanked by U.S. players, leads the NFL’s push for a more inclusive game in a two-minute iconic commercial that was part of the organization’s “Run With It” campaign.
In the advert, 25-year-old Flores leads an epic chase that spilled out of State Farm Stadium and onto the streets of Glendale. She avoids security in the parking lot and eventually slides down a mall escalator to evade Davante Adams, who’s clad in a parrot costume. The ad closes with Flores, yellow flags still intact at her sides, running down a Los Angeles street flanked by Vanita Krouch — quarterback of the U.S. women’s flag team — and Bella Rasmussen, the first female player to receive a name, image, and likeness deal in high school. The final takeaway: all are toting footballs as they help carry the sport into a new age.
Law firms have the same opportunity to carry the industry into a new period. Attorneys play a critical role in developing and promoting DEI initiatives, shaping society, and setting legal precedents.
Avoid cashing in on buzzwords and save the fancy statistical reports for the next board meeting – instead, find the Diana Flores in your organization and showcase your firm’s DEI initiatives by creating compelling stories and key messages for social media platforms, blog posts, and website content.
Be a leader and “Run With It.”
Have a Game Plan and Be Flexible
All football teams have a game plan when they hit the field. From running with the ball at certain times, stopping a pass, or covering a specific player, there is a strategy to win. Preparation is key. However, things change. Players get injured, or unexpected weather can impact the game, and coaches must devise a new plan. Teams don’t just give up, and they don’t just keep doing what doesn’t work. They make adjust and develop new strategies.
By half-time, Philadelphia pushed the score to 24-14. So, the Chiefs used the mid-game break to reassess their plan, identify their strengths, and make necessary changes to accomplish their goals. Legal marketing and public relations are no different. Like the Chiefs, which won the 2023 Super Bowl, law firms must be willing to make a game plan, develop the best strategies, and adjust quickly.
What the Super Bowl Can Teach Law Firms
Over the last several years, it has become apparent that integrity is a key ingredient to outstanding leadership. So while the Eagles may not have won the Super Bowl, Coach Nick Sirianni stole the show with his open display of emotion during Chris Stapleton’s excellent rendition of the National Anthem.
Sirianni proves that you can be a great father, husband, coach, businessman, and human and wear your heart on your sleeve.
And Jalen Hurts is a true winner and a great role model. In the post-game interview, he said, “You either win or you learn.”
Hurts also said, “The only direction is to rise, and that will be the mentality going forward – that is the mentality.”