Creating a brand message that stands out from the competition in the personal injury law space is difficult to pull off on a good day. Add a pandemic to the mix and the challenge is immense. As a marketer, how do you continue to build trust in your brand while not seeming insensitive to the realities of a global health crisis?
On March 19, 2020 Illinois Governor Pritzker issued a stay-at-home order. At Ankin Law, a large PI firm in Chicago, we were airing our brand work on television; a combination of animated general practice and sports celebrity commercials with athletes like Chicago Bull Lauri Markkanen and White Sox all-star Tim Anderson. As soon as the stay-at-home order was put into effect, we paused our advertising, took a deep breath and wondered now what? Like our attorneys who have a detailed plan in place before going to trial, marketing plans are approved long before advertising tactics are produced. But here we were in a situation where we couldn’t simply continue with business as usual. And we couldn’t afford to go dark either.
We needed a new plan yesterday.
We decided to address the pandemic head on. Within three weeks our first set of commercials were produced to thank essential workers and first responders for keeping the rest of us safe. Once scripts were approved, we still needed to somehow produce the ads. TV studios were all closed at this point so all of our work was produced in-house. Our team was already filming and editing HD video for website and online use, so we made the pivot to broadcast. Our coronavirus campaign consisted of black and white photos shot at the firm or around Chicago along with a few stock photos. Howard Ankin, who almost always appears in our commercials, was recorded in his office or outside.
Watch Ankin Law Commercials Below
Early on in the pandemic, news outlets reported that many of the people being infected with the virus were disproportionately first-responders, delivery drivers and healthcare workers. Long before there was a pandemic, many of the people in these categories had workers’ compensation cases handled by Ankin Law. Howard Ankin began making weekly trips to visit these groups around Chicago to hand out PPE. Over a six-month period, the firm gave out over 25,000 face masks and bottles of hand sanitizer. This experience led to a new message which found it’s way into our advertising:
“Protecting the rights of injured workers is what we’ve always done. Even more so now, it’s what we do.” – Howard Ankin
By December, ridership on CTA busses and trains was slowly going back up but unfortunately, there were still riders who would board mask-less, putting passengers and operators at risk. So when the opportunity to sponsor a “mask requirement” sign became available, we were happy to help out. Ankin Law sponsored over 1000 CTA busses and trains. It felt essential to do something positive for our community. Let’s face it. Wearing a mask can be a drag. It’s easy to let slip, or droop, or to drop one’s guard. The winter has been hard as well. Our “Let’s keep it up” program was meant to remind and cheer on everyone to stay the course.
The coronavirus focused a light on a need that Ankin Law will continue to support long after the pandemic ends. A percentage of time and financial support will continue to be directed to communities and charities that donate to healthcare workers, delivery drivers, city workers and first responders. The pandemic may end, but people will always have needs. As Howard often says in our commercials “We’re here to help.”