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Improving the Image of Lawyers, One Coca-Cola Ad at a Time

You've probably seen videos like this one, where two Coke brand managers seek advice from counsel about a frivolous lawsuit. As many now know, the videos were part of a viral marketing campaign by Coca-Cola Zero, intended to capitalize on the public's willingness to see lawyers looking "tragically clueless."

But what you may not have realized is that the lawyers featured on the videos are not acting. Rather, as described in this article, the lawyers were "set up" -- or punked through an elaborate scheme:

When Coke marketing execs decided on the litigation theme, they tapped the previously unidentified acting skills of James A. Dudukovich, Coke’s marketing counsel for North America. His job was to convince six of Coke’s in-house attorneys and two outside lawyers to offer legal advice to a pair of brand managers who wanted to sue their own company.  “As you might imagine, when the general concept was presented, I got very nervous because it’s a sensitive thing to execute,” Dudukovich says, ticking off potential problems: fraud, ethical conduct issues, code of business obligations.  The end result: Dudukovich targeted unsuspecting lawyers who he thought would provide amusing on-camera reactions while—mostly—keeping their cool. He then prepped the actors, educating them about legal terms, hot-button issues and the practice areas of the lawyers they’d be duping.

Apparently, Coke's YouTube ads have grown so popular that they're now being shown on national television. I don't know whether the ads will increase the popularity of Coca-Cola Zero. But ironically, by trying to make lawyers look bad, in my view, the ads actually have the effect of  improving our image. After all, it's hard to dislike someone who's a good-enough sport to appear foolish on national television. And therein may lie the lesson for the bar in trying to improve the image of the legal profession: Rather than take ourselves so seriously, maybe lawyers ought to step back sometimes and just laugh at ourselves. 

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on March 23, 2007 at 05:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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