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Be Brazen: Lessons in Marketing from Pirates

One of our clients recently came to us with a clever idea. September 19 is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. The client, Vancouver-based law firm Acumen Law Corporation, thought why not use this as a marketing event. We loved it.

So far advertisers seem to have overlooked this date as an opportunity to create a viral marketing event. Increasingly popular occasions, such as Pride Week for instance, are in danger of reaching saturation point as brands clamour to capitalize on an event. Of course, this makes it more difficult to stand out. Talk Like a Pirate Day, however, has not elicited much of a response from brands beyond a few funny tweets.

This was a real chance to make our client stand out in a highly competitive market.

Step 1: Pirate website takeover

To make the most of this opportunity we had to do something more than a few tweets in pirate parlance. We had to do something that would have a bigger impact.

Some brands will see Talk Like a Pirate Day as a way to engage with customers/clients in a zany and different way. This can help to show a different side to a brand that’s creative and funny. They might even dress up in pirate gear and decorate the office with a Jolly Roger.

Our approach went a little further. The plan was to convert the website to a pirate theme. The normal pictures on the main page were swapped for photos of the lawyers in full pirate regalia (see picture above). The headings on the main page were also translated into pirate-speak. “Our Lawyers” became “Our Pirates”. “Our Successes” was translated into “Successful Voyages”, while “Our Videos” was changed to “Pirate Movies”.

The landing page text was also translated into pirate-speak but still let visitors to the site know what the heck was going on. A call to action below the landing page text implored people to watch a series of pirate-themed videos. Which brings us to Step 2.

Step 2: Pirate-themed videos

The concept of the videos was to have campy pirates provide legal information highlighting Acumen Law’s main practice areas. It might take a bit of a mental leap to go from lawyers to pirates but the aim was to make the client more approachable and memorable to people.

We came up with scripts and storyboards and shortly after filmed material for nine videos at a studio space in Richmond.

We have video and sound recording equipment and studio space at our disposal so after the client kindly provided some excellent costumes, props, green screen and an impressive pirate ship set, we were good to go.

The most difficult part of editing the videos was deciding what to cut. There was so much we could have included, however, rather than trying to make a Pirates of the Caribbean-length epic, we opted for a punchier, kitschier tone.

Once the videos, which can be viewed here, were done and uploaded to YouTube, Stage 3 could begin.

Stage 3: Getting the word out

Steps 1 and 2 would have been pointless if no one got to see any of the pirate content. Our goal was to get people flocking to the website to see the cool redesign and have them sharing the videos. A few teaser posts were put up on the client’s social media in the days before Talk Like a Pirate Day. On the day itself, Acumen’s social media accounts were also converted to a pirate theme.

The lawyers themselves also changed their profile pictures to photos of them dressed as pirates from the shoot. We promoted the videos heavily across social media and engaged with users in pirate speak. As well as being a lot of fun it allowed the client to be at the centre of the local conversation for #TalkLikeaPirateDay.

A few key local influencers from the media even joined the conversation online which helped Acumen reach their armies of followers. The results so far have been encouraging. The videos have been viewed more than a thousand times and views of the website were many times that of an average day. Although the campaign was designed primarily to increase public knowledge of the law firm, the buzz generated an immediate impact in bringing in clients to the firm.

Be like a pirate. Be Brazen

The response on social media was overwhelmingly positive, which was reassuring to us. Standing out from the crowd calls sometimes calls for audaciousness over subtlety. Sometimes you have to think like a pirate, throw caution to the wind and just go for it. This was one of those occasions and we were pleased to help our client achieve its goals on Talk Like a Pirate Day. The fact it was hugely fun to be a part of was just an added benefit. 

If you need help with a new campaign, give us a call on 604-370-0075.

brand distinction, law firms, marketing, viral marketing