Celebrate

2017 Winners - Communications: Messaging Strategy

First Place

Levenfeld Pearlstein, LLC

LP's CSR Surprise

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Summary: Levenfeld Pearlstein broke the mold for holiday greetings with a highly inventive campaign that used intrigue to draw attention to its CSR partner, Chicago’s Community Kitchen (CCK). Run by the Greater Chicago Food Depository, CCK helps underemployed people find work in the food service industry by providing them with a 14-week training program at no cost, including two weeks of on-the-job training at a CCK partner site. In addition to its training function, CCK also provides meals to food-insecure individuals in Chicago. Instead of sending out the typical e-greeting at holiday time, LP sent hundreds of lock boxes to its clients, friends and colleagues. To unlock the mysterious box, recipients were directed to a wesbite containing a two-minute video produced by LP, complete with a voiceover by an LP attorney. The video tells the story of CCK and its mission, while showing CCK participants making chocolate and caramel bark. At the end of the video, LP’s managing partner, Robert Romanoff, delivers a thank-you message along with the code to open the box (113, the number of CCK graduates to date). The surprise inside the box was the bark the viewer had just watched being made. LP chose CCK as its CSP partner in part because they share core values, including a desire to maximize the impact of their work. CCK receives no state or governmental funding and fully relies on grants and individual contributions to operate. Advertising and word-of-mouth endorsements, therefore, are critical to its success. LP’s holiday card made a splash for CCK among an influential group of contacts that are in a position to help the organization in a number of ways. LP received an overwhelming response to this unique year-end holiday greeting, including a feature in Crain’s Chicago Business and an honorable mention in Above the Law’s annual Holiday Card Contest. More importantly, LP did something unexpected and memorable, which had a real impact on clients who watched the video and were inspired to donate and get involved with CCK.

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Many firms see holiday cards as an opportunity to market themselves. Levenfeld Pearlstein saw a different opportunity, just as it views charitable giving differently than most firms. Giving at LP takes a holistic and strategic approach: The firm invests its time and resources — not just money — in a cause, creating a tangible impact for its charitable partners. So in this spirit, LP used its annual holiday message to raise awareness of its charitable partner, Chicago’s Community Kitchens. Run by the Greater Chicago Food Depository, CCK helps underemployed people find work in the food service industry by providing them with a 14-week training program at no cost, including two weeks of on-the-job training at a CCK partner site. CCK also provides meals to food-insecure individuals in Chicago. LP imagined a unique multimedia experience that would provide a personal touchpoint with clients, deliver them a welcome holiday treat, and promote CCK’s program and message.

Imagine receiving a locked box in the mail. It is from your law firm. You have no idea why it was sent to you, but according to a note on the outside, you can get the code to unlock it at www.fourteenweeks.com. You might be intrigued. That intrigue is how Levenfeld Pearlstein introduced more than 500 of its contacts to its CSR partner, CCK. Hundreds of boxes were shipped to LP’s clients, friends and colleagues. The website to which they were directed contained a two-minute video produced by LP, complete with a voiceover by an LP attorney. The video tells the story of CCK and its mission, while showing CCK participants making chocolate and caramel bark and packing it in one of LP’s locked boxes. At the end of the video, LP’s managing partner, Robert Romanoff, delivers a thank-you message along with the code to open the box 113, the number of CCK graduates to date). Inside was the bark the viewer had just watched being made.

LP received an overwhelming response to this unique year-end holiday greeting, including a feature in Crain’s Chicago Business and an honorable mention in Above the Law’s annual Holiday Card Contest (it was not technically an e-card, so was ineligible for top honors). More important than any recognition LP received, however, was the interest it generated in CCK. The firm received several emails from clients saying they loved the video and the message and had forwarded it along to their family and coworkers. One food industry client was so inspired by the video that it reached out to CCK to become a partner training site. But, by far, the best response was an email to CCK with the subject line “Levenfeld Pearlstein Gift.” The message: “I’d like to make a donation.” In the end, that is what a successful corporate social responsibility initiative looks like: one that uses time, creativity and resources not only to support an organization, but to build awareness of its mission and work.


Second Place

Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt PC

Schwabe Messaging Strategy

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Summary: 

Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt is focused on your industry, a member of your team committed to deliver expertise and ideas, recognizing that every deal has a dream and every risk, an opportunity. That’s what it means to be “represented by Schwabe.” This is its brand promise. The team’s objectives were to promulgate that brand promise first internally and then externally. It felt that only when a brand is absorbed internally can it be brought to the market in an exceptional, memorable manner. So this was the team’s approach:

  • Internal: Ensure that the “seal of Schwabe” and the underlying spirit of the brand was absorbed deeply enough internally to replicate it across all channels and to each other. The team is able to make sure its messaging was consistent through the implementation of a firm-wide roll-out celebration in May 2016, followed by messaging workshops (for each industry group) that led to our external roll-out of the new brand and industry focus in June 2016.

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Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt believes the strategic objective and approach will add a valued dimension to the representation of our clients. This in turn will lead to more and even better clients in the industry, less fee-sensitivity, more sophisticated assignments, more challenging and satisfying work, and ultimately greater revenue and a stronger reputation. So, the ultimate end game? A stronger, more polished and memorable reputation, backed up by a unique brand, that subsequently leads to increased revenue.

The right image strategy was critical, as Greenfield Belser is very photo-centric, and relies on images to tell the story of its industry-focused brand. Content, color palette and key messages were also important, but without the strength of a correlative image strategy that reinforced the messages and positioning, its entire brand would have fallen flat. Once the firm determined its brand promise and took the leap to embrace the “represented by Schwabe” position, the rest of the process was simpler, and yet more difficult. Sculpting the key messages to pair with the images and ensure they truly represented Schwabe’s industry experience took the combined effort of all of Industry Group Leaders; so strong and cohesive leadership made the critical difference in each of these projects.

A sampling of feedback from clients and prospects:

  • "Congratulations to you all on the new positioning and the media coverage around it! Very impressed by the strategy and the transparency around the new direction. I would expect no less from you all. Looking forward to seeing more great news in the future."
  • "The rebrand is impressive and the website works well and looks great."
  • “I think your firm’s new rebranding and marketing strategy is brilliant. It creates transparency for the market, as to what exactly it is you do, and the expertise of your group. Outside looking in, I know it helps me!”
  • “The launch was a masterpiece!”

Internally, “Represented by Schwabe” is a rallying cry for the firm. It is used in internal congrats emails on big wins. A giant seal is put in the office and cube walls of teams who have just had a major client victory to remind the firm what it means to be “Represented by Schwabe.”

This brand exercise touched everything. What began with the website reached back to the firm’s logo and forward with advertising, e-blasts and even trade show materials. Never is an undertaking as extensive (or exhaustive) as one thinks it might be, and this investment was both, but with stellar results. A risk was taken to stand and declare deep industry knowledge in six industries that more or less define the Pacific Northwest. The firm went to market with a bold declaration that was reminiscent of the “Good Housekeeping” or “JD Power” seal of approval for competitors to aspire to. It did this via a designed “seal” that was used in each of its industry ads. This seal became the identifying design mark across the firm’s identity, ads and digital presence. Such as the seal is embedded in all of the firm’s materials, so too are Schwabe attorneys embedded in their respective industries.


Third Place

Gowling WLG

Gowling WLG Brand and Advertising Launch Campaign

Gowling - website image.pngSummary: On July 8, 2015, Canadian firm Gowlings and U.K.-based Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co announced their intention to combine just seven months later. Within this aggressive timeframe, a small multi-country project team, working with Publicis Worldwide, was tasked with not only developing a new brand, but also managing its roll-out and launching an international advertising campaign.

Their goals were simple:

• To create a brand that truly reflected the needs of an evolving legal industry
• To promote their brand in key markets while maintaining equity from legacy brands
• To create advertising that stood out in a competitive marketplace
• Above all things, to be bold, unique and keep their clients as the focus every step of the way

Before they even glimpsed a colour swatch, the project team began an extensive research phase where they assessed the market, their competitors and what clients are looking for in a law firm. This process revealed Gowling WLG’s key differentiator — to not just be their clients’ legal partner, but to be truly in tune with their clients’ worlds. As their new brand developed, Gowling WLG kept their initial goals top of mind. From a logo that depicts a camera lens-inspired “focus loupe” and a bright colour palette to striking upper-case headings and dramatic “real world” photography, Gowling WLG ensured every element of their brand embodied “client focus” in a bold and unique way.

The market had its first glimpse of Gowling WLG’s new brand on February 22, 2016, and for the next eight weeks, advertising across the U.K. and Canada further solidified their unique voice within a highly competitive industry. Having abandoned traditional legal industry messaging that focused on experience and expertise, Gowling WLG chose to use striking images depicting technological change and short impactful headings to place the client’s needs at the centre of their ad campaigns.

Engagement with the new brand was high, both internally and externally. Gowling WLG achieved significant brand exposure, reached its goal of advertising industry average click-through rates on digital campaigns, increased website traffic by 54% and received glowing reviews across the board. 

Read more.


On July 8, 2015, Canadian firm Gowlings and U.K.-based Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co announced their intention to combine just seven months later. Within this aggressive timeframe, a small multi-country project team, working with Publicis Worldwide, was tasked with not only developing a new brand, but also managing its roll-out and launching an international advertising campaign.

The goals were simple:

  • To create a brand that truly reflected the needs of an evolving legal industry
  • To promote this brand in key markets while maintaining equity from legacy brands
  • To create advertising that stood out in a competitive marketplace
  • Above all things, to be bold, unique and keep our clients as the focus every step of the way

The launch campaign ran from February 22 to April 30, 2016. Given the budget, they chose to focus primarily on business decision-makers in Canada and the U.K.

Great brand exposure

  • Print impressions: 5,851,992*
  • Out of home impressions: 41,000,000
  • Digital impressions: 8,837,044

*based on circulation numbers

Increased web traffic:
Gowlingwlg.com averages 3,501 unique sessions globally per day. During launch, traffic spiked by 54% to an average of 5,408 sessions daily.

Industry average click-through rates (CTR) on digital ads

  • Publicis reported industry average CTR of 0.06-0.10%
  • Average Canadian campaign CTR: 0.7 (our highest was 0.16)
  • Average U.K. campaign CTR: 0.7

Upward movement in Acritas Brand Index
Results pending. They look forward to hearing their Acritas Brand Index positioning in April 2017 for Canada, and in May 2017 for the U.K.

In developing Gowling WLG’s new brand and advertising launch campaign, they worked hard to find a unique voice within a highly competitive industry. They challenged familiar visual approaches and used a bright, fresh colour palette in conjunction with bold images of a changing, modern world. They pushed beyond traditional legal industry messaging by focusing directly on the client and addressing the issues they face in their world, rather than highlighting the firm's own expertise and experience.


Honorable Mention

Fish & Richardson P.C.

Cybersecurity White Paper

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Summary: Over the past few years, Fish has developed a growing cybersecurity and data privacy practice within its Regulatory and Litigation practice group ranks. In an effort to position Fish as a leader in this field, the firm partnered with ALM and Corporate Counsel in June 2015 to develop a thought leadership initiative that included a general counsel survey on cybersecurity training and preparedness within corporations. Fish set out to determine how companies address potential data breaches within their organizations. In particular, the research examined how companies work within and alongside their board, leadership and management to implement such plans. With that data, Fish hoped to provide information to companies on how to bridge the disconnect between buy-in and action, create stronger support for cybersecurity preparedness among upper level management, and offer advice on how to most efficiently and effectively tackle these problems.

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In August of 2015, Fish and Corporate Counsel research staff crafted a survey that was sent out to ALM subscribers via email. The survey remained open for two weeks. The results were then tabulated and delivered to Fish in September 2015 for analysis and review. Using the results of the survey, the white paper was drafted with the assistance of Corporate Counsel’s research and editorial team. Fish and ALM exchanged approximately two to three calls to discuss outline and direction, working on drafts and analyzing the survey results. The final draft of the white paper was approved in early November 2015. The document was published in January 2016 in Corporate Counsel, and was distributed to subscribers and survey respondents in two email blasts from ALM.

The survey resulted in a Cybersecurity white paper that has been referenced countless times since its publication. It has set Fish apart from its competitors in this field and established its attorneys as go-to counsel when it comes to cybersecurity breaches and data privacy concerns. As mentioned in the white paper, data breaches are on the rise in today’s increasingly digital age. This can cause significant harm to businesses and their clients. While cybersecurity preparedness can be daunting, the results of the survey show that it is well worth the time invested for all involved. The white paper furthered Fish’s efforts to promote its cybersecurity and data privacy practice, elevated the profiles of its Certified Privacy Professionals (Ed Lavergne and Donna Balaguer, both principals in the Washington, D.C., office), and provided content that could be distributed to the firm’s intellectual property clients as part of the firm’s cross-selling/cross-practice promotional efforts.

By demonstrating our knowledge and initiative in this field through the survey and resulting white paper, Fish has been able to take on a significant amount of work for big-name clients, one of which is a major global hospitality and gaming company (confidential). The data in the white paper has informed companies’ cybersecurity planning decisions, and has shed light on where upper management has room to improve so that success is increased in all areas of business.


Honorable Mention

Turner Padget Graham & Laney, P.A.

A Legal Minute with Turner Padget

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Summary: Last year marked a new beginning for Turner Padget, a firm that takes pride in its 80-year commitment to serving South Carolina businesses. With a successful blog and social following growing each month, the firm saw the opportunity to give its exposure a huge push through radio advertising on a local station that reaches the business demographic the firm targets. Rather than create a generic commercial or NPR-type soundbite that offered only the traditional branding slogan, Turner Padget’s marketing department came up with the idea to adapt its content strategy to radio. Radio spots usually are thought to be too brief to offer substantive content on serious topics, but Turner Padget was determined to extend its successful content strategy to the airwaves. It did so through creation of a 60-second "legal minute" that provided practical and substantive guidance to South Carolina businesses. Each commercial in the continuing campaign begins by informing listeners that Turner Padget provides practical legal advice that keeps South Carolina businesses moving forward. The commercial then follows through on that promise as it transitions into an attorney, in their own voice, offering about 50 seconds of practical legal advice on a current business topic. The commercial concludes by encouraging the listener to subscribe to the Business Litigation Blog, and wraps with Turner Padget's slogan: “Leaders in the Law. Leaders in South Carolina.” And as the buzz from the commercials increases, attorneys — even those from other practices at the firm — are asking when they can take a turn. They talk about their day as the firm’s DJ.

Read more.


In 2015, new CEO Wayne Byrd hired a marketing professional, the firm’s first fully dedicated marketing position in more than 10 years. He supported the internal position by forming a relationship with a legal marketing and public relations agency that consulted on strategy and worked with the firm’s attorneys on content creation and placement. The firm started a business litigation blog and pushed the content through social media. And marketing became a focus in partner meetings, as well as the strategic plan. One of the most innovative tactics in the firm’s new marketing drive was break-the-mold radio commercials that brought in new clients and revenue, elevated social media outreach, increased readership of the firm’s blog, invigorated its image in recruiting circles, reduced turnover and increased enthusiasm for content marketing across the board at the firm.

Turner Padget rolled out its Business Litigation Blog in 2015. Soon after, the firm saw the opportunity to give its exposure a huge push through radio advertising on a local station that reaches the business demographic the firm targets. The firm’s marketing department came up with the idea to adapt its content strategy to radio. It did so through creation of a 60-second "legal minute" that provided practical and substantive guidance to South Carolina businesses. Each commercial in the continuing campaign begins by informing listeners that Turner Padget provides practical legal advice that keeps South Carolina businesses moving forward. The commercial then follows through on that promise as it transitions into an attorney, in their own voice, offering about 50 seconds of practical legal advice on a current business topic.

Since the beginning of the year, Turner Padget has added 17 new clients who have directly referenced the media and content efforts of the firm as the reason they chose the firm. In just six months, the firm calculates that $28,000 of additional revenue can be tied directly to its marketing campaign that is anchored by the radio spots. To Turner Padget’s knowledge, no other law firm has so effectively used radio advertising to demonstrate its experience and approachability to clients while simultaneously elevating its profile in the legal community. In a firm that desperately needed to regain its momentum, the entire marketing campaign — from blog and article content to radio advertising — has turned around perceptions of Turner Padget outside the firm and triggered a cultural change inside the firm. And most importantly, the campaign has generated results — in new clients and revenue — reduced turnover and eased recruiting.

The results speak for themselves: 17 new clients and $28,000 in added revenue for the second half of 2016 alone. But in a firm where the word "marketing" was previously met with anxiety, the excitement created by this success cannot be overlooked. As anecdotes of new clients and matters, kudos from fellow business leaders who heard the radio spots and even the firm's recent recognition from the LMA Southeastern Chapter all poured in, the buy-in from even the most skeptical attorneys has set the standard.