If Ken Nunn wasn’t an injury lawyer, he’d probably be in marketing.
Nunn is a natural communicator. He loves to tell stories. In everything he does, he thinks about communicating effectively to his audience—whether it’s a judge, a client or a jury.
He applies the same logic to his commercials.
“Some of my commercials are good, and some are not,” he said. “Some are boring, some are not. It depends on whether or not you need my service. Then it’s not so boring.”
Nunn is one of many local TV personalities Hoosier natives have gotten to know over the years from the view of their couch.
Now, Nunn says he can’t go anywhere without being recognized.
“It feeds my vanity,” he said.
Nunn started advertising in 1978, shortly after the Supreme Court ruled it was legal for lawyers to advertise—knocking down an antiquated rule of etiquette they shouldn’t.
Nunn wasn’t excited about the ruling. He was shaking in his boots.
But he tried it out anyway. He started small. His first venture was a small phonebook ad.
The ad made him worried. He was concerned others would find out that he put that ad in there, and then they would know the truth—that he’s not a very good lawyer.
“By the way, here we are in the year 2016. Nothing’s changed,” he said. “I’m still a maverick. I’m still not as good as they are. The good lawyers don’t advertise. The equation of ‘advertising’ equals ‘bad lawyer’—still here today.”
Nunn said he sees marketing as an investment, not a cost, because for him—it works. It gets people in the door.
Nunn shoots his commercials through Whitehardt, a lawyer-exclusive agency out of Nashville.
They’re the ones who came up with Nunn’s famous tagline, “It’s just that easy,” and followed it by his ever-memorable right hand snap.
A lot of their good ideas, he says, get killed by the rules.
The agency even produces “sensational” spots, including one where a lawyer talks about auto accidents while sitting atop a bull.
Nunn, though, has always tried to keep his commercials more serious than wacky. His finger snap is about as sensational as it gets.
But his commercials haven’t aired without criticism.
Over the years, he’s been told that his commercials are misleading. That he’s an “ambulance chaser.” That he’s “too good of a lawyer” to advertise.
“I was taught in school that if you advertised, it meant that you were not a very good lawyer,” he said. “Because good lawyers would have a line of people waiting at their door. Tracking me down. The word would get around the community, ‘Oh go see Ken Nunn, he’s the best lawyer.’ So they said sit back, do good work and get lots of money and lots of business. Not true. Not true.”
Nunn attributes a lot of his success and recognizable character to his commercials—and his hard work.
Calling himself a “blue collar lawyer,” Nunn champions that his office—out of about 14,000 lawyers in the state—has had the most jury trials for the last 15 years.
“Thank you for all my critics. They inspired me. They motivated me. They made me want to advertise more,” he said. “And then once I got the case, I wanted to prove to them they are wrong. It’s a little bit like a basketball player that gets booed. It charges him up. And so, I’ve had 48 years of being booed.”
Nunn recognizes that his commercials aren’t for everyone, but he still wants to be top-of-mind when someone needs his service.
“No one’s entertained by a commercial. No one,” Nunn said. “Except for the folks that have grandma that’s in the hospital. Or your son is in the hospital. Or your son’s in the other room with a steel rod in his leg. You’d like to call and find out what your legal rights are. You’d like to call somebody. That’s what they’re for.”
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