Have you no sense of decency, sir? Have you left no sense of decency, Worby Groner Edelman & Napoli Bern?
The law firm that “specializes” in World Trade Center aftermath issues has already drawn the ire of the judicial system. The firm represents workers injured in the WTC cleanup, and a federal judge previously benchslapped them for seeking excessive legal fees.
You’d think Worby Groner would try to keep a low profile after that. But the firm’s latest advertising campaign is just tasteless….
Sadly, a tasteless law firm ad wouldn’t be particularly interesting news. But a tasteless ad that also falsely places a firefighter at Ground Zero — without the knowledge of the firefighter? Well, you just have to ask if there is anybody at Worby Groner Edelman & Napoli Bern with a basic sense of propriety.
The New York Post found this gem of a law firm ad:
I just don’t see why you need to go there to make the point that your law firm is awesome. But whatever, I’m not so desperate to generate business by any means necessary.
But here’s the thing: the firefighter pictured was not in fact “there.” He didn’t even become a firefighter until 2004. He didn’t know this ad was going up, and and now that he knows about it, he is pissed off. From the New York Post:
Firefighter Robert Keiley — who joined New York’s Bravest only in 2004 — was working as a model when he posed for what he thought would be used for a run-of-the-mill fire-prevention ad.
He appeared in generic firefighter gear and gripped a helmet for the shot — not the photo of the destroyed Twin Towers that was “put” into his hands with Photoshop software for the Worby Groner Edelman & Napoli Bern ad.
“It’s an insult to the Fire Department. It’s an insult to all the families who lost people that day,” said Keiley, 34, an ex-cop who now works out of an engine company in Flatbush, Brooklyn.
“It makes me look like I’m cashing in on 9/11, saying I was there even though I was never there, and that I’m sick and possibly suing, trying to get a chunk of money.”
No, Mr. Keiley, I think we can all see who is looking to cash in on 9/11.
The law firm passed the buck to its ad agency, which came out with simply the most odious statement I’ve heard in a while:
Worby Groner directed all calls to the ad agency, Barker/DZP.
A rep insisted the agency was well within its rights to use the image because Keiley signed a release.
“He really signed his rights away,” said Kim Tracey, an account director at the agency. “[The release] allows for use in ads, promotional usage, really anything you want.”
Kim Tracey, I nominate you for most heartless and tone-deaf ad agency executive of the year.
Meanwhile, it’s pretty disturbing that this Worby Groner law firm wants us to think they’ve spent no time considering how they represent themselves in public. It makes the whole profession look bad when law firms run ads like this.
UPDATE: From the ABA Journal:
Barker/DZP issued an apology and announced the ad will not run again, according to CNN and an update by the New York Post. The agency said it was unaware that Keiley was an actual firefighter, and the law firm was not involved in the photo selection.
Worby Groner senior partner Marc Bern told the New York Post that the law firm did nothing wrong. “It was all appropriate, due to the release signed by [Keiley],” he said. “We are trying to help the victims of 9/11.”
So the ad has been pulled. Is anyone surprised?
Law firm’s ad trick a 9/11 ‘insult’ [New York Post]