QualitySolicitors – The Movie

Posted by Neil Rose, Editor, Legal Futures

The newly fired employee from the advert – they didn’t even give him time to put his jacket on

So at last we got to see what private equity investment, Team Saatchi and a £15m advertising budget has bought QualitySolicitors (QS) – a TV advert for legal services the like of which I certainly haven’t seen before, a world away from the “Had an accident in the last three years?” genre. See it on YouTube here if you couldn’t face sitting through Dancing on Ice last night for the adverts.

‘For whatever life brings’ – the company’s new tagline – follows a slightly ephemeral blonde dubbed ‘QualitySolicitors Woman’ as she observes people going through a series of life events for which one needs legal services. Set to a beautiful rendition of Jimmy Cliff’s ‘Hard road to travel’ by up-and-coming singer Rachel K Collier, the extended 90-second slot deliberately had the subtle and quality feel of a John Lewis-type advert, only revealing the QS name at the end.

It was a bit corny but I liked it. The shared moment between the mourning woman and the expectant mother is particularly well played.

Well-known legal blogger and tweeter Jon Bloor made an interesting point, tweeting: “QS ad seems like good promotion for the profession, but no real message as to what is meant to differentiate QS firms?” It was an advert that the Law Society could or should have done, he suggested.

Arguably differentiation might not be that important given the many members of the public who don’t know where to go for legal advice and who therefore may be drawn to a brand that puts out slick adverts during Dancing on Ice.

No doubt the QS knockers will come out to play today (just how does someone walking through a city centre pass by a family moving into their new house, fellow pedants?), but to me the really interesting aspect of the advert is the effort to link legal services with the emotion of life moments. Several people on Twitter mentioned how it even brought tears to their eyes. “What is wrong with me? I used to have a heart of stone and now I’ve just sobbed at the QualitySolicitors advert,” said one.

As QS chief executive Craig Holt puts it in the accompanying ‘Making of’ video, the advert was about “creating an understanding that legal services aren’t really about forms and documents and black-letter law, but about life and emotions and people’s families, businesses”.

The problem is that for many people, forms and documents are exactly what legal services are about – if they do engender emotions, they are usually not positive ones, at least in anticipation of seeking legal advice (of course, many lawyers will leave their clients satisfied by the end). It may take more money than even QS has to change the perception of something that is usually described as a distress purchase into a positive, beneficial choice.

Accompanying the advert – the precursor to the full campaign kicking off in May, as we recently revealed – is QS’s new website. It’s uncluttered (almost too uncluttered, if possible, with not much depth, although I understand that not all the functionality is yet in place) and, once more unlike any law firm website I have seen, contains videos of real clients endorsing their local QS firm.

The site also has five prominent promises: direct lawyer contact, first consultation free, no hidden costs, same-day response and Saturday opening. None of these (except the last one) is remotely unusual but they are expressed clearly and in terms of offering something that ‘regular’ solicitors should do but don’t. That will wind a few (more) people up. Strangely there’s no mention of the QS Privilege card that I can see.

Proof of the pudding, of course, will be in the instructions once the main campaign gets under way. As ever, many eyes will be on QS. They have such a head start that you wonder how anyone else with similar national plans can catch them up, especially if Mr Holt reaches his target of being in 1,000 locations by the end of the year, with firms whose collective turnover would be £1bn.

But love them or hate them, that’s the fascinating thing about alternative business structures right now – something spectacular could be going through the SRA approval process as you read this. For whatever life brings, indeed.



    Readers Comments

  • Richard Pettet says:

    I’m not a QS knocker but the advert was not great. Maybe it was a teaser with more to come but I don’t feel that the brand is given enough exposure. Who am I to argue with S&S but given that the new QS website points straight to the YouTube video you’ve highlighted, and that only has 317 views (as of posting), then that doesn’t indicate a huge immediate success.

  • As the creators of the first national brands of wine discovered half a century ago, promotion of this sort can succeed in selling the generic proposition without benefiting a specific brand. And the basis of differentiating a brand is that it should represent a distinctive and consistent product or service, which QS seems to lack.

  • My thought about the differentiation was they might only need to do that when they have a serious, sizeable competitor?

  • Craig Holt says:

    Richard’s point is correct. At the moment, there is no true rival brand for legal services – on any realistic measure there is zero awareness of legal service providers. There is thus currently no-one to differentiate against and so the key is in creating awareness and interest. Of course, that awareness should be a positive feel and the emotion expressed through the advert appears to have achieved that and connected with viewers (whose views of the ad have gone to over 1,000 already which, on the back of just a single one-off play ahead of the main campaign, is a significant number). Successful adverts should be subtle and intruiging not stamping phone numbers and logos all over them – it is for exactly the same reason the recent John Lewis advert was so successful. It didn’t shout at people, it told a story that people emotionally connected with and took on a life of its own as a result. That is our aim with this campaign and our early ‘buzz’ around the ad suggests our May campaign will achieve just that.

  • I’ll pin my colours to the mast. I like the advert and as the article says it is a million miles away from most traditional legal TV or print advertising.

    I also think it is a good step in building awareness of a young national brand with hopefully a bright future ahead of it.

  • I like what QS are doing to shake up the legal services market and I like this advert. It may take a while for them to take a firm grip of the market, but this advert certainly makes a firm statement and goes some way towards achieving that.
    I do agree that as a standalone advert it runs the risk of being “good viewing” and the name of the advertiser could be lost, but all advertising scores in the timing. But the advert is probably aimed at the QS members and potential members as well as the great buying public and in that result it absolutely works.

  • I think the ad is right on the money. It’s a classy, interesting, subtle set of visuals that leaves the viewer to work out what is going on. Does it lead to people remembering and trusting this radically new brand that reveals itself at the end? Yes it absolutely does, especially as this is just the opener and there is much more to come.

    QS are getting a strong headstart and must be enjoying every minute of it. Being a pioneer is fun anyway, but pioneering with £££ behind you is even better.

    Rory MccGwire
    Law Donut

  • On a first viewing I believed the ad was directed at recruiting solicitors, not the public. The problem QS has is that they have no yardstick to show the public why they provide quality, and how that quality is maintained. I felt the placing of the ad was a huge waste of investors money, and it did not transmit to the public a clear message.

  • James Delap says:

    Martin – Your views are why advertising/marketing should be left to Saatchi and Saatchi and not lawyers. No-one wants to watch an advert harping on about “we have great lawyers”. Advertising is so much more sophisticated than that if you want to promote anything other than base-level claims management stuff. QS have an ad that has clearly engaged the public on an emotional level which is why they have got almost 150,000 YouTube his in a matter of a few days. John Lewis, the most successful ad of recent years, doesn’t say “look – we’re really good, here’s why” – they connect with an audience on a much deeper level and that’s the difference between lawyers playing at marketing and professionals doing it for real.

  • Hmm James – sounds like you are connected with QS in some way shape or form. Nevertheless, the cost of the ad must have been circa £180,000 plus production / agency costs during prime time TV. Whether this money is well spent or not is a matter of opinion. The general consensus of people who have spoken to me contained a belief that this ad was pitched at solicitors, to enable the build of the QS corporate model, which presumably will be sold at some stage in the future. So, when there are quotes that this ad was pitched at the public, the conflict in opinion on the target market equates to confusion over the message contained in the ad. QS Solicitors want something out of the company, for the money which they have invested. Until the company can warrant that a Quality Solicitor has achieved, and can maintain a quality kite mark, the risk of damage to the corporate model remains. Also, there needs to be a quantifiable gain by any solicitors financially aligning to the brand.

  • James Delap says:

    Martin – I’m not connected with QS actually. It seems to me irrelevant who the ad was pitched at. What matters for QS and QS firms is whether it connects with the public or not and clearly, from the reaction on YouTube, Twitter etc, it has and in a big way – all from just a single play. To have people tweeting about how the ad brought them to tears demonstrates just how spot-on QS have managed to pitch this advert. I think the full campaign will be fascinating and has the potential to create similar ‘water-cooler’ discussion moments amongst the public as the John Lewis ads QS apparently aspire to emulate.

  • Brian Rogers says:

    I took another visit to the Mcr WHS to see if anything had changed with the QS Help Point since the advert (it has been unmanned and dormant for months), the only thing that had was the TV being switched on with the old-style adverts!

    Is there any real point in the Help Point if there is no one there to deal with your enquiry; you could get more information if you went on the internet!

    Craig – you have commented on this particular Help Point in the past, do you have an update?

  • In Neil’s blog he comments on the unique QS client videos – my firm, with other PSFs in Yorkshire offers a service for older clients called Elderflower. Have a look at our video case studies – we did it first!

  • Graham Laing says:

    Advert reminded me of a sanitary towel advert. From a marketing & advertising perspective prime time TV advertising has always been about reinforcing ‘well known’ brands (ie Cadburys/Coronation Street) and not introducing the new. Its the time when people make tea and as such no calls to action are usually advised. Seems strange to have pitched it at this time.

    I know a few Quality Solicitor firms, most of them were at the brink before the joined QS and most of them are still there, albeit with a bit of hope. They are in desperate need of work. They are paying through the noses for branding, signage and the WHS Smith stands and were indeed hoping, and waiting patiently for the TV advertising to start. I understand 8000 slots have been purchased. I hope they intend on advertising in the ‘Richard & Judy hour’ with some strong calls to action because the QS firms that I know are bored of the constant training programmes and want some work.

    No doubt for me that a number of QS firms will be debranding, pending the TV results at the next available opportunity.

  • Craig Holt says:

    Graham –

    Your ‘insight’ into TV marketing appears somewhat superficial, to say the least. Prime-time = existing brands, daytime = introducing brands?! If you think that the key to a successful legal services brand campaign is cheesy calls to action in Richard & Judy, then I sincerely hope the Co-op recruit you to plan their legal TV campaign!

    Almost 200,000 viewers of the ad on YouTube after one slot to date (the video is actually trending worldwide it has become so popular) tells it’s own story. Equally, as just one isolated example of it’s early success, a QS firm in Kent today emailed saying they took on two new ancils today from people who contacted them solely due to the advert on Sunday. Our web traffic has increased beyond recognition and the number of enquiries via our call centre/website is higher than ever before. People are intelligent enough not to need to be shouted at to “pick up the phone and call now” in order to make a decision on who to choose for their legal services.

    As for the tired misinformation about the profile of QS firms – the most recent two firms to launch as QS are Fisher Jones Greenwood, one of the leading firm’s in Essex, and Rite Kite Law (merged firm of Lowless & Lowless and Morris & Roberts), one of Wales’s largest law firms. Both are successful, profitable, modern & progressive firms – just like the rest of the firms under the QS brand.

    Every QS firm is extremely excited about the new campaign, as shown by almost universal attendance at the recent ‘premiere’ we showed. We still have lots to do and lots of opportunities to grab but QS firms are extremely committed to the brand.

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