If you drive from Baton Rouge to Atlanta, which I do every few months, you will notice a plethora of billboards for law offices. Maybe there are an excessive number of accidents on I-12, I-10, and I-65. Maybe people in the Deep South sue more than in other places. I don’t know, but there are some truly AWFUL tag lines and subject lines on those outdoor ads.

My previous two blogs have been about “anti-advertising,” and one particular tag line caught my attention because it’s a distant cousin to anti-advertising — I call it “negative advertising.” Whereas anti-ads poke fun at themselves by drawing attention to the fact that the reader/viewer is being manipulated, negative ads explain to the potential customer what a product or service “is not.”

Perhaps the most famous negative tag line is “Not your father’s Oldsmobile!” from the commercials of the 1980s. Although negative ads are dangerous because they don’t directly state a benefit for the viewer, they can imply a benefit by comparison to something else. “Your father’s Olds was stuffy and oversized, but this Olds…”

By showing modern features and sporty styling (which was a stretch, we must admit), the viewer thinks, “This is new and hip.” At least that was the hope. Have you noticed that Oldsmobile is no longer in existence? Like I said, risky.

Which makes the law firm ads I noticed driving through Louisiana and Mississippi so curious and inexplicable. One particularly terrible billboard had a photo of a middle aged white guy in a suit with the tag line, “A law firm like no other.”

Do you mean that no other law firm is owned by a middle aged white guy? That can’t be true, because almost every famous law firm is owned by that type of guy. No other law firm has employees that wear a suit? Not true. Okay, the clue must not be in the visual, as it was with the Oldsmobile ad.

So how is the law firm that paid for the outdoor ad different from EVERY OTHER LAW FIRM ON THE PLANET? No clue. Do they not charge their clients? Do they not argue in court? Are they located overseas? Without a benefit listed in the tag line, how are we supposed to know how they are unique?

And the name of the law firm is … no clue. I have seen that ad a myriad of times, and I can’t remember the law firm. But I do know that they are completely unique… somehow …

If you have seen a company with the tag line “like no other” or “not like anyone else,” let us know in the comments. Let’s let them know that’s terrible advertising, and they need to get their money back from that agency! (And if you need an actual effective tag line with a clear benefit, give me a shout.)