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Storage Wars Fixed?

Shoeless Joe” Jackson was a famous baseball player from Pickens County, South Carolina. He played major league baseball in the early 1900’s. He is remembered for his baseball skills, but also remembered for being implicated in the Black Sox scandal of fixing baseball’s World Series in 1919.

At that time, there was nothing more pure than the game of baseball. So, when all the players implicated in the scandal were swept into a trial, Joe Jackson was included. Legend has it that a boy came up to Joe following the trial and said, “Say it ain’t so, Joe… say it ain’t so”. Instead, a contemporary news story says that the following conversation occurred between Jackson and a young boy, as Jackson left the courthouse that day:

 When Jackson left criminal court building in custody of a sheriff after telling his story to the grand jury, he found several hundred youngsters, aged from 6 to 16, awaiting for a glimpse of their idol. One urchin stepped up to the outfielder, and, grabbing his coat sleeve, said:
“It ain’t true, is it, Joe?”
“Yes, kid, I’m afraid it is,” Jackson replied. The boys opened a path for the ball player and stood in silence until he passed out of sight.
“Well, I’d never have thought it,” sighed the lad

It’s not quite on the same level of cheating news. (yes, typed with some sarcasm) But now, a story comes out to say that “Storage Wars” is fixed.

The popular TV show has treasure hunters bidding on unseen storage units that have been abandoned or simply put into auction, because of unpaid rents. In every show, the participants bid on the units and then show the audience the “haul” from that bid, and  then resell those items to make a profit.

Now, a lawsuit alleges that the TV producers are planting items in the storage units, to make it appear more exciting. One allegation includes burying a BMW car underneath some trash in one unit.

Currently, the show draws an average of 5 million viewers per episode, on the A&E Network. After one of the original “hunters”  was fired from the show, he filed suit against the producers, and included lawsuit allegations of “fraud, wrongful dismissal, breach of contract and unfair business practices”.

The contestant went on to say that “nearly every aspect of the show is faked”. He recited other examples of planted items such as valuable memorabilia and original newspapers that announced Elvis Presley’s death. A&E declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Will fraud make viewers stop watching or will it just be viewed as entertainment, or a version of pro wrestling? If you are a “Storage Wars” fanatic, maybe you just feel like exclaiming, “Well, I’d never have thought it”.

For pic o’ day, I guess this is more like cartoon o’ day. To me, there’s just something funny about a rabbit holding up some snowmen for their noses!!!

O.J. or a Serial Killer

I started out with the intent of blogging on gratitude and thanks. Then, I got sidetracked by Wednesday night TV listings.

The TV channel “Investigation Discovery” will be airing a documentary on the killing of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. The documentary identifies Glen Rogers as their possible killer. That got my attention!

The documentary relies on interviews with family members, including Rogers’ brother, who first turned Glen Rogers in to the police after finding a rotting corpse in the family’s Minnesota cabin.

He has been convicted of two murders and is currently on death row in Florida. While there, he has confessed to having killed more than 70. Based on his own confession, his family believes that he also killed Simpson and Goldman.

In 1994, months before the two were killed, Glen Rogers was working in Los Angeles as a house painter. At that time, he reportedly was working for and partying with Nicole Brown Simpson. He told his family  about working for Simpson, that she was rich and that he was “going to take her down”.

Rogers later was charged  and convicted of the other two killings. According to the press release from the documentary,  after that he confessed to criminal profiler, Anthony Meoli, that he had murdered Simpson and Goldman and he provided detailed accounts of their slayings. According to the show, his own family cannot believe the depth of his evil.  The confession provides another unexpected suspect.

For Pic o’ day, this one gets me everytime!

An Advertising Genealogy

I watched the radio sales representative walk away from my office. I had a nervous “pit” in my stomach because I had just signed a contract to commit to a year of radio advertising.  The firm was now going to spend $700 a month on radio, on an AM station. That commitment was now, in addition to the one-half page yellow page ad that had been placed the year before.

Sometime after that, I tried or settled some cases that led me to commit to TV advertising. It was in the Hampton Roads market. Thereafter, I committed to the Richmond TV market. Of course, this is several years ago. At that time,  I would regularly hear “Hey, I saw you on TV the other day” or “Does that TV advertising work?”.

Soon, I began to see several law firms advertising on television. At that point, I decided that I needed to do more than just ask people to call. I didn’t have an agency to help me. In fact, most agencies had never worked with any lawyers. At this point, some lawyers were just outright disgusted with lawyer advertising and weren’t afraid to say so; Some even said it to my face.

Lawyers against advertising seemed to fall into two camps. Either they felt that the profession was too dignified for it; or they felt that anyone that advertised must not be much of a lawyer. That school of thought basically felt that any lawyer who had to advertise, was obviously not a lawyer that anyone was already calling. Why would lawyers with known skills need to advertise?

If you could see me typing my blog right now, you would see a slight smile on my face. This makes me travel a bit down memory lane. Sometimes, I wasn’t sure about the advertising, but felt I had to just push out.

As it began to circulate through the legal community that people did respond to advertising, then I would hear a whisper campaign that “advertising lawyers don’t try cases” or “Even if advertising does bring in business, I’d never stoop to doing such a thing”,

Some of those thoughts came back to me as I read the “Richmond Times-Dispatch” article on current political TV advertising. Apparently, we are in for a lot of political advertising in the coming months, and it feels like we have already been bombarded.

This year alone in the Richmond market, 13.4 million dollars have been placed and we are still more than 75 days away from the Presidential election. That doesn’t even count any state or local elections. Karl Rove’s Crossroads PAC has placed over 15 million in advertising across the state, with about 2.3 million of that in Richmond, so far.

Separately from those amounts listed, Obama and Romney have their own PACs. There are Federal law limits on how much you can give to any one candidate, but there is no limit to the amount that can be given to PACs. Plus, those amounts don’t have to be identified and reported.

Political advertising impacts lawyer advertising because political advertising overrides all other advertising. Plus, political advertising is guaranteed by law, to pay the lowest per point rate on all stations. No one can pay any lower. So, even if I want to pay more for an ad; it doesn’t matter. If a political candidate or PAC wants that spot in that time period they are going to get it.

Today, lawyer advertising is changing. Firms that have decided that they “want to try TV advertising” soon are very disappointed. It is now hard to bust through the clutter. It means that law firms have to look to other areas. Now, lawyers don’t ask me if TV works. Instead, I hear questions like “Do you know anything about Internet advertising” or “Who writes your blog?”. As to that blog question, I am still looking for volunteers!

For pic 0′ day, I have thought of many different advertising ideas. Here’s one that I haven’t tried:

Our Television Advertising

     It is probably no surprise that we get inquiries about possible cases through the Internet. My blog is not really meant to generate business but I know that the reach of the blog has helped in introducing some of the “on goings” of the practice. Because this really isn’t a political blog by nature, I don’t get the ranting comments like some other blogs that I read. My advertising, on the other hand, has sometimes gotten a different reaction.

     I think that I aired my first television legal ad in 1989.  I remember the first ad as being pretty tame and basically was a name recognition advertisement that included the slogan “Leave it to Bieber”. When I was in law school, I would always joke that I would have Ward and June characters outside of a house, like the old “Leave it to Beaver” show, calling to me and saying something about “The Bieber” while the June actor would be saying something like, “Do something, Ward” . If you’ve seen the old re-runs from that show, I’m sure you’ve seen that line a few times. 

     When I really used the theme of “Leave it to Bieber”, I didn’t expect much of a reaction. I recall getting a great deal of business from the ad but I also recall getting calls and hearing grumblings from lawyers, about the fact that we were doing TV advertising. To this day, there are lawyers still complaining about it; but mostly, so many lawyers are on TV, that it has become “old hat”.

     When I first arrived at law school, I quickly learned that there were some first year students that were very friendly. Those same friendly students are now friendly lawyers. They brought their personality to the practice of law.   When I am asked about what I think of lawyers, one of the responses I give is that all lawyers that come to the office make me happy. Some make me happy when they arrive and others when they leave.   

     I still sometimes speak on advertising. In the beginning, many would ask me if television really works. Now, I’m not asked that question. I guess they figure that we have been around long enough that something must be working or maybe, we have the “Secrets to the Secrets” locked up in a vault somewhere.

     We still do a bit of advertising on TV but the amount has been greatly reduced. Now, people get their information from many sources; There are so many channels on cable or TV that it is hard to target a large viewership. You can now more effectively, though, target a specific audience. ESPN targets young males. Dr Phil targets a female audience. For me, I like that we keep just hanging around. In the next 5 years, who knows what will be the hot item for advertising.

     God willing, we’ll still be here. I suspect that we won’t be advertising by bullhorn or megaphone. Maybe by then we will be in 3D and you’ll see me standing in the middle of your living room, while you wear your fancy 3D glasses. I guess if that’s true, I better go out and buy some new clothes. I have to look good from all angles,  you know!

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