In an iconic Far Side cartoon, a single penguin rises above the colony to belt out “I gotta be me, I just gotta be me…” Immersed in a crowded field of nearly indistinguishable personal injury lawyers, Rick Hessig and Martin Pohl of Hessig & Pohl chose to similarly differentiate their message from the vanilla legal ads that dominate in the Greater Louisville market.
Funky dancers. A detached, floating head. Subpar hula-hoopers. A guy peels open his vest to expose each partner’s head. Li’l Claims rocking it with a 1980s boombox. The Hessig & Pohl commercial is a 30-second visual journey through Lewis Carroll’s looking glass, craftily anchored by the catchiest earworm jingle to invade the airways since the Oscar Meyer Weiner song: Five oh two, triple seven, eleven, eleven. Five oh two, triple seven, eleven, eleven.
Videobred’s Patrick Hogan designed the commercial to have a lo-fi appearance. The spots are produced in standard definition; ghosting, static and graphics give viewers the impression the spot was transferred from an old, SD beta tape. Hogan also designed billboards and bus shelters that complement the hastily created look of the TV spots and deliver the campaign punchline: Less effort on ads. More on getting you $$$$.
But it’s the jingle, based on the law firm’s phone number, that sticks in the heads of Louisvillians young and old: five oh two, triple seven, eleven, eleven. Five oh two, triple seven, eleven, eleven. Local composer John Powers with Powerfulbeats penned that number.
“Marty Pohl came to Videobred looking for fresh, new creative,” said producer Raph Cecil. “He had a newly produced spot that he just wasn’t happy with. Then he played the jingle and we knew right away that it was the most infectious thing our team had heard in a very long time. That got our creative juices flowing. We wanted to produce a spot that people talked about and would remember, not something that would be forgotten by the top of the hour.”
Hessig & Pohl invited clients, friends and family to serve as talent for the spot, and a couple members of the Videobred crew also joined in the production rave. Thus was born the fictional character of Li’l Claims.
Right message, right audience, right channels
Hessig & Pohl rolled out the campaign in a target geographical area of metro Louisville in late November 2019. Media buyer Beth O’Daniel from ROAR Advertising provided strategic guidance for placement on broadcast television and in-store monitors at Circle K gas stations as well as radio, social media, streaming audio, bus shelters and billboards.
“The advertising world can often get wrapped up in creating ads for their peers and not for the benefit of clients. To add to this dilemma, many personal injury lawyers seem to be more interested in becoming celebrities than helping clients,” said Hogan. “We wanted to create a campaign that turned both of these negative outlooks on their head. So we listened to our client’s needs and created a campaign that gave them immediate results and name recognition in a highly competitive field.”
Creativity often goes against the grain, and the campaign has elicited a mixed reaction with some audiences. But the overwhelmingly positive response has led Hessig & Pohl to extend and expand the campaign. The original commercial became a viral sensation, quickly passing the 100,000-views mark on YouTube and now surpassing 320,000 views on that single platform..
“Our original approach was to be targeted and ensure a high frequency within each media placement,” said O’Daniel. “With the tremendous response from the creative, we raised the bar by launching a second campaign capitalizing on high-profile programming including sports and entertainment specials. Using a mix of broad reach and high frequency was ideal and the creative took it from there.
“Videobred breeds creativity. When others shot down our crazy ideas, they took them and ran with them!”
The campaign generated intense debate on social media, in the advertising community and on Reddit, where 94 percent of comments on the television commercial ranged between positive and effusive. The buzz from the campaign led to Pohl’s appearance on Great Day Live with Angie Fenton on WHAS-TV and Listens Live! with John Ramsey on WAVE 3. Li’l Claims accompanied Pohl in both appearances, hiding behind the couch and periodically peaking over it in the former, and eating a large burrito during the latter. Further media coverage of the campaign included a highly positive article in Louisville Magazine.
Following production of the spot, the attorneys, O’Daniel and Videobred shared the spot to get unscientific focus group feedback. While the response was overwhelmingly positive, Hessig and Pohl prepared themselves for the smattering of negative comments. The two men make no apologies. As a small law practice with a limited marketing budget, the two lawyers knew the firm needed a bold campaign to make a splash.
Making creativity pay off
The ultimate success of any advertising campaign is measured by business growth. Although Hessig & Pohl rolled out ads in late November, the results were almost immediate. Pohl reports that December 2019 was the highest month for incoming calls in the firm’s history. By early January, the practice added two paralegals to assist with the increased caseload.
“I couldn’t be happier,” said Hogan. “A good advertising campaign, above anything else, creates real results for a client. If it can do that and create a lively discussion within the community, I consider that a win.”
A followup campaign targeted the much coveted Spanish-language market and included a revised jingle featuringˈtripəl siete, once, once (triple seven, eleven, eleven). A more recent virtual production old west spot featured a country western jingle. All involved in the creative process pledged to keep raising the bar to ensure five oh two, triple seven, eleven, eleven is not a one-hit wonder.
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