The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

The law firm of Morgan, Colling & Gilbert is a familiar institution in the Central Florida/Tampa Bay area, thanks to a massive amount of advertising over the years. It's worked bigtime: The firm is one of the biggest in the state now. Much of that growth has been thanks to the aggressive strategy of the firm's President, John Morgan, who was the subject of a great profile by Cynthia Barnett in Florida Trend recently (free registration required).

As astute as Morgan is at marketing for the legal industry, I have to question his latest slogan:
We represent the people, not the powerful.
On the surface, it conveys what it's supposed to: Morgan goes to bat for the little guy, and spurns the fat cats who usually have all the advantages in the courtroom. It's an effective sound bite.

However, I think the implication this slogan creates is iffy. By saying he doesn't represent the powerful, he's saying that the people have no power. This is, of course, contrary to the founding principle of a democratic society: That political power and legitimacy stems from the people. To suggest that "the people" and "the powerful" are mutually exclusive is, to me, somewhat cynical.

I'm not saying that Morgan, Collings & Gilbert's advertising has to pass the muster of political theory. But the wording here strikes me as having a definitely negative undercurrent, which I think is the last thing the firm wants to get across.

So here's my suggestion for a more appropriate slogan:
We represent the people, not the privileged.
Replace "powerful" with "privileged". It gets across the same sentiment, without the cynicism. It's a distinction I think is worth making.

So, if you're reading this, John Morgan, consider this food for thought. If you go with it, consider it a freebie.