Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers Powers Up Its Marketing with Brantley Davis Ad Agency

BDAA Charged with Adding Jolt to The Power of Perkins Brand

Attorney Jonathan Perkins has been in the legal profession for more than thirty years. He sold the first law firm he started, retired and quickly discovered the golf course was not his ultimate destination.  Jonathan realized that helping working people fight insurance companies and recover after accidents was what gave him purpose in life.  So, he started another personal injury law firm, Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers.  Nearly twenty years later, he’s been named one of the top one hundred lawyers in the nation, top ten for client satisfaction and even Super Lawyer.  Best of all, he’s helped more than ten thousand accident victims.  But even with all the success, Jonathan felt like the Power of Perkins brand needed a recharge.  Along with his digital marketing guru Paul Eisen of The Legal Marketing Company, Jonathan began searching for an ad agency with deep experience in law firm marketing and a reputation for making brands sizzle.

“We’d been searching for an ad agency for over a year when Paul suggested  Brantley Davis Ad Agency,” recalled Jonthan Perkins, President of Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers.  “I’d never heard of Brantley but his agency had thirty years experience marketing law firms, high profile clients and a clever creative product.  So I hired him and we’re delighted.”

Brantley Davis Ad Agency works with top personal injury law firms from New York to Seattle. The agency’s work is well regarded throughout the industry and has been the subject of comedic sketches on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live. BDAA was founded in 2021 by Brantley Davis, an award winning writer and ad agency veteran.  He has been marketing law firms since 1993.  Davis and his team are credited with introducing marketing tactics that have changed law firm marketing, including the use of fifteen second bookend commercials, competitive frequency benchmarking and creative hooks like  “What’s Your Case Worth?”

“We’re thrilled to be working with Connecticut’s top personal injury law firm,” commented Brantley Davis, President of Brantley Davis Ad Agency. “Attorney Jonathan Perkins has built a brilliant brand in the Power of Perkins and we’re honored to be entrusted with adding a little spark to it.”

The attorneys at Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers have a reputation for standing up for people without the means or expertise to stand up to a big insurance company.  That’s why the firm charges no upfront fees and only charges clients if the firm wins their case.

“Our no fee guarantee levels the playing field for ordinary people who’ve been injured in accidents,” explained Perkins.  “Otherwise, most people would be at the mercy of insurance companies.  And as we all know, insurance companies make more for their stockholders when they pay less for accident claims.”

Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers also has a reputation for taking cases other lawyers have rejected.

“We’re not like other law firms,” commented Jonathan Perkins. “We’re powered by the people, not necessarily big profits, so we’ll take a chance on a case.  That’s why our law firm often accepts cases other firms reject.  With thirty years of experience, we see possibilities others don’t.  That’s the power of Perkins!”

Brantley Davis Ad Agency will handle TV negotiations on behalf of Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers in the Connecticut markets.  The agency is also developing its proven TV commercials, billboards and bus kings for Perkins while adding a clever wrinkle the Connecticut market may not be expecting.  It could be the jolt the Power of Perkins brand has been searching for.  We’ll find out in August when new creative is slated to launch across all Connecticut markets.

Brantley Davis Ad Agency Gets Busy with Rizzi Law Group in North Carolina

Many would consider attorney Mike Rizzi the ultimate pitch man. He’s gregarious and larger than life at six foot four inches tall.  And Rizzi was a four year starting pitcher on a division one college baseball team.  But 20 years after starting his eponymous personal injury law firm, and enjoying extraordinary success,  Mike Rizzi had never pitched his own law firm in TV ads.  Well,  that just changed.  Rizzi Law Group has hired Brantley Davis Ad Agency to create TV commercials and negotiate media in the Greensboro-Winston Salem-High Point TV market.

     “We wanted to hire an ad agency with deep experience in law firm marketing and a track record of producing winning results. That’s why we hired Brantley Davis,” explained Mike Rizzi, President of Rizzi Law Group.  “That decision has been a home run.”

Other law firms around the country agree.  Over the last thirty years,  Brantley Davis has been hired by some of the nation’s leading law firms from Florida to Seattle, San Diego to New York. And the agency’s work has even garnered the attention of late night talk shows like Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon who’ve both created sketches around the ad agency’s omnipresent law firm TV ads.  But Davis says even after working with law firms in the largest TV markets in the US, being hired by the Rizzi Law Group in North Carolina was special.

“I’m proud to say I was born in Winston Salem.  And not only did I attend Wake Forest University as an undergraduate, but I also lived in married housing as a baby when my parents were at Wake Forest University in 1966,” revealed Brantley Davis, President of Brantley Davis Ad Agency.  “Being hired by Mike and Doug was a bit like coming home for me.  I am delighted!”

Mike Rizzi started Rizzi Law Group twenty years ago in Winston Salem to represent car and work accident victims who didn’t have the resources or knowledge to stand up for themselves against big insurance companies.  Mr. Rizzi was soon joined at the firm by attorney and partner Doug Winn, a Wake Forest Law School scholar and litigator known for his quick mind in the courtroom and empathy for his clients.   Since then, the firm has expanded beyond its Winston Salem location, adding offices in Greensboro and Raleigh, North Carolina.  And the firm’s practice continues to emphasize workers compensation and personal injury claims including catastrophic car and truck accidents as well as wrongful death cases.  The partners also continue to take great pride in offering an exceptional level of service to clients, which Mr. Winn and Mr. Rizzi contend is one of their secrets to success.

“After an accident, people are anxious and scared. Many don’t know how they’re going to make ends meet because they can’t work,” explained Doug Winn, partner at Rizzi Law Group.  “It’s our job not just to maximize the amount of money they receive for their claim, but also to provide them with some peace of mind so they can heal their bodies and rebuild their lives.  That’s very fulfilling for us as lawyers and as human beings.”   

The Rizzi Law Group TV ads have been shot, edited and are now on the air throughout the Greensboro-Winston Salem-Highpoint region punctuated by a highly memorable jingle, “Get busy, call Rizzi.” The jingle is already a hit with Rizzi’s friends who began singing it to him immediately after the ads began airing.  Certainly the pitchman is a hit with his friends.  The question is whether Rizzi and Winn will be a hit with broader audiences. Initial indications are a grand slam.  Yes indeed, according to Mr. Winn, Rizzi is getting busy.  

Brantley Davis Ad Agency was founded in 2021 by Brantley Davis, an award winning writer and ad agency veteran.  Davis has been marketing law firms since 1993.  He and his team are credited with introducing revolutionary marketing tactics that have dramatically changed law firm marketing, including the use of fifteen second bookend commercials, competitive frequency benchmarking and creative hooks like  “What’s Your Case Worth?”

A Step-By-Step Guide to Planning a Law Firm Video Production Shoot

Producing TV ads can help law firms reach new audiences, boost customer engagement, and demonstrate their expertise. But what does it take to plan a successful law firm video production shoot? The guide below will provide an overview of the process and offer tips for creating a high-quality video. But before exploring the characteristics of all that goes into a great TV shoot, we talked to Brantley Davis, president of Brantley Davis Ad Agency. He’s produced more than 10,000 TV spots and been involved in literally thousands of TVs shoots.  Davis says preparing to shoot TV ads is kind of like preparing for court.  

   “There’s nothing better than a well prepared attorney, and nothing worse than one who isn’t.  The same is true for a TV shoot. Every aspect of the production should be meticulously prepared and considered.  From wardrobe details to how a lawyer should hold their hands as they’re speaking and even appropriate inflection on each line.  Take care of the details before the TV shoot and afterwards you’ll have a great product.”

Introduction to Video Production for Law Firms

Video production for law firms is a powerful way to communicate with potential clients, demonstrate expertise, and promote services. Video is one of the most engaging forms of media and can be used to convey complex concepts in a way that is easy to understand. It’s also an excellent tool for highlighting the unique qualities of a law firm, such as its culture, values, and services.

What is Law Firm Video Production?

Law firm video production is the process of creating a video that showcases a law firm’s services and expertise. The video can be used to introduce the firm to potential clients, explain complex legal concepts, or even provide guidance on how to navigate the legal system. It’s important to keep in mind that this video will represent the law firm, so it’s essential to create a professional and informative product.

Benefits of Law Firm Video Production

There are numerous benefits to creating a video for a law firm, including:

  • Enhancing the firm’s online presence by reaching a larger audience.
  • Increasing client engagement, as videos can be more engaging than text.
  • Helping potential clients understand complex legal concepts.
  • Establishing the firm’s expertise and credibility.
  • Boosting visibility on social media platforms.
  • Establishing connections with potential clients.

Steps to Planning a Law Firm Video Production Shoot

Planning a professional TV shoot takes time and effort, but it’s essential for creating a high-quality product. Here are the steps for planning a law firm video production shoot:

Define your goals and objectives

Before you begin planning your shoot, it’s important to define your goals and objectives. This will help you create a plan that is tailored to the needs of your law firm. Some questions to consider include:

  1. What is the purpose of the video?
  2. Who is the target audience?
  3. What message do you want to convey?
  4. What tone do you want to use?

Develop a storyboard

Once you have identified your goals and objectives, the next step is to create a storyboard. A storyboard is a visual representation of the video’s structure, which includes shot descriptions, dialogue, and transitions. This will help you organize your ideas and ensure a cohesive video.

Cast your actors

The next step is to cast your actors. If you’re creating a video that features a lawyer or other legal professional, it’s important to choose someone who is knowledgeable and experienced in the field. You can also consider hiring actors for certain roles, such as client testimonials or other scripted scenes.

Secure your locations

The next step is to secure your locations. Depending on the type of video you’re creating, you may need to rent a studio or secure public locations. It’s important to consider the type of lighting, sound, and other factors that will affect the quality of your video.

Hire a crew

Depending on the complexity of your video, you may need to hire a crew to help with the production. This may include a director, cinematographer, sound engineer, production assistants, and more. Be sure to research the crew members and make sure they have the necessary experience and skills.

Gather your equipment

Once you have secured a crew, the next step is to gather your equipment. This includes cameras, lights, sound equipment, and any other necessary items. You may need to rent some of this equipment, so make sure to budget accordingly.

Plan the shoot

Now it’s time to plan the actual shoot. This includes scheduling the shoot days, setting up the locations, and determining the shots you want to capture. It’s important to be organized and efficient during this stage, as this will ensure a successful video production.

Shoot the video

Once you have planned the shoot, it’s time to actually shoot the video. This is the most critical step in the production process, so it’s important to be prepared and organized. Have a plan for how you want to capture the shots and be sure to follow it.

Post-production and Editing Tips

Once the video is shot, it’s time to move onto post-production and editing. This is the time to create a cohesive and professional product. Here are a few tips to keep in mind during this process:

  • Make sure the video has a clear structure and narrative.
  • Focus on the quality of the audio and visuals.
  • Add graphics and animations to enhance the video.
  • Pay attention to the details and make sure everything looks professional.

Finalizing Your Video

Once the post-production and editing is complete, the next step is to finalize your video. This includes exporting the video in the correct format, uploading it to your website, and adding captions. Once the video is finalized, you’re ready to share it with the world!

What to Look for When Hiring a Law Firm Video Production Company

If you’re considering hiring a law firm video production company, here are a few things to look for:

  • Experience and expertise: Make sure the company has a proven track record of producing high-quality videos for law firms.
  • Professional equipment: The company should have access to the latest video production equipment, such as cameras and lighting.
  • Creative vision: The company should be able to suggest creative ideas to make your video stand out.
  • Flexibility: The company should be able to accommodate your schedule and budget.


Creating a law firm video production shoot can be a time-consuming and complex process. But with the right planning and preparation, you can create  high-quality videos that will help you reach new audiences, engage potential clients, and demonstrate your expertise. Follow the steps outlined in this guide and you’ll be well on your way to creating a professional video for your law firm.

The Definitive Guide to Law Firm Marketing in 2023: What You Need to Succeed

As a law firm, staying ahead of the competition can be a challenge in today's digital age. With the ever-changing media landscape, it's essential to keep up with the latest strategies and trends to succeed. That's why we've created this definitive guide to law firm marketing in 2023. Here, you'll learn the latest trends and strategies that are essential for your firm's success. From online and offline advertising to digital marketing and social media, we'll provide you with the necessary tools and insights to help your business thrive. Whether you’re just getting started or looking to expand and grow your law firm, this guide will provide you with the necessary resources to help you succeed. With the right marketing techniques, you'll be able to reach more potential clients, build your reputation, and establish yourself as a leader in the field. So, let's get started!

Key Trends in the Legal Industry

Before we jump into the latest trends and strategies for law firm marketing, let's first take a look at some of the key trends that are shaping the legal industry. As the world evolves and new technologies emerge, the legal industry is also experiencing change. These changes will likely impact the way law firms market themselves, how they interact with clients, and the types of services they provide. Some of these key trends include: 

Advances in technology: As technology continues to evolve, these advances will likely be reflected in the legal industry with the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation across various areas, such as legal research and document review. As a result, processes that used to be manual and time-consuming may become automated, saving time and money. 

Increased regulation: As regulatory issues continue to evolve and become more complex, there will likely be an increase in regulation across various industries, including the legal industry. This will likely have an impact on the services that law firms provide, as well as the marketing strategies that firms employ. 

Changes in client expectations: With advances in technology and increasing regulatory complexity, clients’ expectations for service are also changing. Clients are expecting more convenient and cost-effective services, which may also influence how law firms market themselves and how they interact with clients.

Online Advertising and Digital Marketing Strategies

As online advertising continues to be a key trend shaping the legal industry, online marketing strategies are likely to become more important for law firms. Traditionally, print ads have been a key way in which law firms reach potential clients. However, as print ads have become less effective, online ads have become increasingly important. There are a variety of online advertising strategies that law firms can implement, including: 

Display advertising: Display ads are visual ad units that are commonly found on websites and social media platforms. They can be used to target potential clients based on a number of factors. 

Online retargeting: Retargeting is an online advertising strategy that allows you to show ads to people who have visited your site, but didn't take the next step (e.g. buy a product, subscribe to your newsletter, etc.). That way, you can convince these people to take the desired action. 

Email marketing: Email marketing is another online marketing strategy that allows you to reach a large number of people with a single message, often through an email newsletter. Email marketing is a great way to keep customers up-to-date on new products, sales, and other news related to your business.

Benefits of Social Media Marketing for Law Firms

Social media is another key trend shaping the legal industry, and it's also an important online marketing strategy for law firms. Social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, are great places to market your law firm and interact with current and potential clients. Some of the key benefits of social media marketing for law firms include: 

Affordable Advertising: Compared to other types of marketing, such as print, broadcast television and email marketing, social media advertising is relatively inexpensive. With the right strategy, social media can provide a significant ROI. 

Opportunity to Interact With Clients: Social media platforms are great places to interact with clients, answer questions, and provide valuable content. This can help build trust and credibility, especially if you’re using a professional-looking profile.

Offline Advertising Strategies for Law Firms

Although a lot of marketing strategies have shifted towards online advertising, offline advertising is still an important part of any comprehensive marketing strategy. This can include things like radio and TV advertisements, billboards, and even print ads, as well as more modern forms of advertising. When choosing which types of offline advertising campaigns to implement, consider your audience and try to reach them in the ways they prefer to engage. 

Creating a Comprehensive Law Firm Marketing Plan

Now, let's take a look at how all of these marketing strategies fit into a comprehensive marketing plan. No single marketing strategy will be effective for every law firm, so it's important to create a marketing plan that addresses your unique business needs. Depending on your business goals and the resources that your law firm has available, you can adapt these strategies to meet your specific needs. A comprehensive marketing plan will include: 

Defining your specific business goals: The first step in creating your marketing plan is to define your business goals. What do you want your marketing efforts to achieve? How will your marketing efforts help your firm reach its goals? 

Identifying the marketing channels that will reach your target audience: The next step is to identify the marketing channels that will reach your target audience. This can include online and offline marketing channels. 

Creating a detailed marketing strategy for each channel: Next, you'll want to create a detailed marketing strategy for each channel. This can include developing marketing content and creating a marketing calendar. 

Evaluating your progress and making necessary changes: Finally, it's important to evaluate your progress and make necessary changes as needed. Make sure to revisit your marketing strategy regularly and make adjustments as needed.

Some law firms hire an ad agency to help them create a marketing plan and implement it.  There are serious advantages to this approach.  Brantley Davis understands this better than most.  He runs an ad agency in Washington DC that exclusively markets law firms,  Brantley Davis Ad Agency.  He points out that advertising agencies like his with deep experience in law firm marketing can prevent major mistakes and save law firms significant money and time.

Brantley Davis commented, “We’ve been marketing law firms for more than thirty years. We know what works and what doesn’t.  That means law firms don’t have to experiment with their marketing dollars when they hire Brantley Davis Ad Agency.”  

Tips for Optimizing Your Law Firm’s Website

One of the most important aspects of your law firm’s marketing strategy is your website. This is the first place potential clients will go to learn about your business, so if it's not optimized, you could lose out on potential clients. With new technologies and trends shaping the legal landscape, it's important to keep your website up-to-date. Some tips to help optimize your law firm website include: 

Create a Mobile-Friendly Website: With more and more people using mobile devices to browse the web, it's important to make sure your website is mobile-friendly. 

Use up-to-date technologies: Additionally, make sure to use up-to-date technologies, such as HTTPS and SSL, to protect your website and customer data. 

Create engaging content: Another important aspect of optimizing your website is creating engaging content that gives potential clients a reason to visit your website.

Measuring the Success of Your Law Firm Marketing Efforts

Another important aspect of marketing for law firms is measuring the success of your efforts. There are a number of ways to do this, including tracking website traffic and engagement, as well as conducting surveys and polls. Tracking website traffic and engagement can help you understand how many people visit your website and how long they spend on it. This can help you determine what content is resonating with your audience and what content needs improvement. It can also help you decide which marketing efforts are most successful and which ones need more attention. Surveys and polls are another great way to learn more about your audience, including their interests, needs, and desires. Gathering this information will help you better understand your target audience and how your services can benefit them.

Brantley Davis Says "TV Here To Stay" In Washington Business Journal

Recently Brantley Davis, president of Brantley Davis Ad Agency, was featured in the Washington Business Journal's piece "Greater Washington ad executives talk TV trends."See his thoughts below about the future of media and what's in and out.

Greater Washington ad executives talk TV trends.

By Carolyn M. Proctor  –  Data Editor, Washington Business Journal
Nov 25, 2022

The number of eyes glued to network television and the number of ears tuned to local radio stations are both shrinking, and have been for some time. It’s clear where those eyes and ears are going, as increasingly more young adults prefer streaming and podcasts to traditional outlets. The majority of seniors, meanwhile, still tune in to the evening TV news, so while the changes are obvious, it’s no clear-cut conclusion that TV and radio are dying.

Who’s keeping closest tabs on these trends? Look no further than ad agencies. It’s their job to know who’s paying attention to which media so they can make sure their ads are targeted to the right audience.

Bearing that in mind, we reached out to some of the region’s advertising executives to learn more about what they’re seeing on this front, and what their strategies are concerning television and radio these days.

What’s changed – and what hasn’t 

It’s tempting to observe these audience changes and reach the conclusion that network TV and radio are phasing out or no longer important — but ad execs would tell you: Not so fast. They both still have a crucial place in media, it’s just more complicated.

“Twenty years ago, media planning was simpler. For mass reach, we bought TV and targeted specific demographics based on TV programming. And if we wanted to target specific audiences more surgically, we chose from various radio formats,” said Brantley Davis, president of Brantley Davis Ad Agency. “But today, media has fractured. As a result, a much higher level of sophistication is required to plan media, not only because of the wide variety of options, but also due to legitimate questions about the efficacy of newer media.”

Davis said he now allocates about 15% to 30% of media budgets to digital and social media when targeting the 25- to 54-year demographic. That’s a big change from 20 years ago, when TV and radio could easily take 100% of those budgets. Cable TV, Davis said, is still going strong, especially news and sports, and broadcast TV isn’t a slouch.

“TV still offers efficient mass reach and delivers proven results for advertisers,” he said. “In the midterm elections, more money was spent on broadcast TV than any other media, again.”

Looking at certain media types as “older” misses the point, as Sarah Spatafora, media director for LMO pointed out.

“It really boils down to where our target audiences are consuming media now and what media types are showing growth among those demographics — and less about how those media types are perceived as older or more analog,” Spatafora said. “Inherently, we know that if we’re strategizing for a campaign aimed to reach older consumers or consumers in more rural communities where broadcast television and radio consumption is high, including TV and radio in that campaign will be crucial,” she said.

Where we’re headed 

“Commercial TV, like radio, will always have a place in the mix. They just no longer are the only ingredients of the mix,” said Matt Smith, CEO of SmithGifford. “Mass media is what’s dead. Having one place to reach everyone is dead.”

Alicia Gehring, vice president of media for White64, said the average adult still spends about six hours a day watching TV — the difference is they’re not only watching TV, but also looking at digital devices at the same time. Attention is just more fractured.

And that, experts acknowledge, makes the job more a challenge.

“We cut the research in multiple ways in order to understand audiences and create a target audience universe,” said Jacqui Hannigan, head of media for RP3 Agency. “We ask: What is our creative message, what is this format and/or programming that might work for our client’s message, and what geography and mindset is our target audience in? Every media channel is a consideration.”

She still sees network TV and traditional radio as the “tried and tested” ways to reach an audience outside of digital media, especially during big events like the Super Bowl, or the local and national morning shows that people of all ages still watch every day.

Gehring said she still looks to TV for “appointment” programming like special events, news and sports — and radio as the first fragmented medium available by frequency. 

“We now look to partner both linear stations with their digital counterparts,” she said. “Radio also provides opportunity for local tie-ins and amplifications with their on-air talent and promotions, heard on either or both linear and digital platforms.”

As for the future, it seems likely we’ll see some consolidation of all these subscription-based video and audio outlets, as networks and streaming services look to centralize their access to consumers “and ultimately take a bigger piece of the advertisers’ media budgets,” Spatafora said.

But for all too many, human nature isn’t likely to change.

“People will continue to turn to their top three to five favorite channels to consume media, video or audio,” Gehring said. “But they will have many to choose from, and we will need to consider that full universe to reach them.”

“This is without a doubt the most exciting time to be in the communication business. It's full of innovation and creativity. No rules are set. I know this makes many uncomfortable. We are in the business of now." — Matt Smith, CEO, SmithGifford

Legal Marketing: Attorney Ad Says Personal Injury Law IS About Money. Money to Rebuild Lives.

There are 273 million vehicles on America’s roads today.  Each year about 5 million are involved in accidents and 1.8 million Americans are injured.  Much to the insurance industry’s chagrin, a significant percentage of accident victims hire personal injury lawyers to represent their interests.  And for good reason.   According to the Insurance Research Council’s own internal data, car accident victims who hire lawyers average 3.5 times more financial restitution for their accident claims than those who don’t hire attorneys.   The data below from the 1999 IRC study illustrates the difference in payouts for specific injuries with and without an attorney.  The difference in compensation for catastrophic injuries could be substantially more with attorney representation as insurance companies have a much greater financial incentive to contest larger claims and payouts. 

**Compensation for injuries have increased substantially since this study was conducted in 1999, so dollar figures in this table would be much higher today due to inflation.

That’s why the insurance industry has disparaged personal injury lawyers for decades, attempting to discredit them by making patently spurious claims like “lawyers are all about money.”  Some of the malicious barbs have been repeated so long they’ve become bromides.  The irony of course is insurance companies make billion dollar profits, not personal injury attorneys.  Further,  insurance company’s interests revolve around generating higher profits for their Wall Street shareholders, while injury attorneys represent the interests of ordinary people without the means to stand up to wealthy corporate conglomerates.  

High dollar litigation between law firms and insurance companies has become more prevalent  lately as pandemic restrictions eased, more people took to the roads and U.S. motor vehicle fatalities increased.  U.S. traffic fatalities reached a 16-year high in 2021, with nearly 43,000 deaths.  And the trend is continuing.  According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, the first three months of 2022 were the deadliest in more than two decades.  Over 9,500 people were killed.  The rise in traffic deaths is attributed to more people on the roads driving at high speeds, under the influence and without seatbelts.  Less police officers on the road is also adding to the problem according to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association.  

With billions of dollars in accident victim compensation at stake, ​​Brantley Davis Ad Agency has launched a TV ad that turns the old “lawyers are all about money” bromide on its head, pointing out that the money lawyers obtain for accident victims helps pay for surgery, physical therapy, long term lifecare and to take care of families who lost a loved one due to a negligent driver.  While the money insurance companies save by not paying accident claims ends up in the pockets of wealthy Wall Street stock holders.  The ad starts out with an attorney proclaiming, “Some say personal injury law is all about the money.  Well they’re right.”  The commercial goes on to provide examples of how the money is used to help accident victims recover from damage caused by someone else's carelessness.  


Brantley Davis, President of Brantley Davis Ad Agency, commented “sure, many personal injury lawyers make a great living but that’s not why they became lawyers.  They chose the legal profession to help people rebuild their lives. And that takes money.”  Davis continued, “Is personal injury law about the money?  Damn right it is.” 

Legal Marketing: Are Regular People or Actors More Effective in TV Ads? Ask a Newborn Baby

What can newborn babies tell Ivy League educated grown ups about marketing?  Apparently a lot. According to numerous studies, newborn babies hold salient clues to the question that’s been debated by marketers for decades:  Should advertisers use real people or actors in TV ads?  

Over the last twenty years, more advertisers have been using real people in their commercials.  And there are substantial upsides.  Real people are cheaper than actors.  They won’t appear in ads for competitors.  Theoretically, real people are more authentic.  But in practice, are real people more compelling than actors?  Before we solicit the opinion of newborn babies, let’s examine a famous ad campaign that employed real people and delivered big results.  

By all accounts, Dove’s Real Beauty ad campaign launched in 2004 was a homerun.  Going against mainstream beauty standards, Dove featured average looking women in their ads alongside provocative headlines.  The ads were so different they stood out and created positive social impact, endearing the Dove brand to women and men alike.  Sales of Dove products jumped from $2.5 to $4 billion in the first ten years of the campaign.  It was an overwhelming success, spawning a plethora of real people ads for the next decade.  

A Dove advertisement from the legendary “Real Beauty” Campaign.

But was Dove’s “real people” success the rule or exception?  Brantley Davis, President of  Brantley Davis Ad Agency, has been marketing major law firms, automotive groups and political campaigns for thirty years and regularly uses real people and actors in TV ads.  He contends Dove’s success was the product of breakthrough thinking by creatives, not necessarily using real people.  “When the Dove campaign launched, very few major brands were using real people in ads.  Dove’s approach was refreshing.  It made the homogenous sea of ads featuring picture perfect supermodels seem superficial and phony.  And helped women appreciate themselves for who they were, blemishes and all.”  

Brantley Davis Ad Agency,  produces 300-500 TV ads each year.  And according to Davis, commercials featuring actors perform significantly better than real people ads.  “We’ve pulled real people ad campaigns off the air because they weren’t working.  And in each instance, as soon as we put ads featuring attractive actors back on the air, our metrics skyrocketed.”  

Davis isn’t alone in this view.  Real people ads have received their fair share of criticism and delivered lackluster results for many brands. The Chevy campaign featuring real people guffawing over Chevy cars and JD Power awards was panned by many as inauthentic.  The ads even inspired parody videos.  Maybe that’s a positive for Chevy?  As P.T. Barnum famously said, “just make sure you spell the name right.”   

While anecdotal,  these examples beg the question, why don’t real people ads work as well as commercials featuring actors?  Davis contends the answer can be traced back to basic human instinct.  “Countless scientific studies have demonstrated that humans pay attention to more attractive people versus less attractive.  And as a rule, telegenic actors are more attractive than real people.  Even babies less than six weeks old prefer more symmetrical, aesthetically pleasing faces. It’s nature driving our basic instinct to favor those more likely to ensure the survival of the human species.”  

According to the research, Davis is right.  Human infants prefer to look at physically attractive human faces when they are paired with physically less attractive human faces (Langlois, Roggman, Casey, Ritter, Rieser-Danner & Jenkins, 1987). Infant preference for attractive faces has been observed for a range of human faces, including Caucasian and African American adult female faces, adult male faces, and infant faces (Langlois, Ritter, Roggman & Vaughn, 1991; Samuels & Ewy, 1985; Van Duuren, Kendell-Scott & Stark, 2003). 

Davis also brought up the psychological theory of homophily many marketers use as a rationale for using real people in ads.  Homophily is the theory that people like people who are similar to them.  But Davis points out that there are far more factors at play in selling products than choosing friends.  Is a woman in the market for expensive perfume swayed more by an aspirational image or one more mundane?  Are people with more symmetrical faces more influential?  Ask a newborn baby.