Opening Statements

Coming Attraction: Tort Reform

Photo courtesy of The Faces of Lawsuit Abuse

Plaintiffs lawyers beware: you might not like what you see the next time you go to the movies.

As part of an ongoing effort to increase awareness about the costs of lawsuits, the Institute for Legal Reform—founded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—has launched a series of movie trailers in theaters around the country called The Faces of Lawsuit Abuse.

Designed to be educational, the trailers are the next phase of the group’s lawsuit abuse campaign that started 16 months ago with a series of national television, radio and Web spots, says ILR president Lisa Rickard.

The move onto the big screen was a natural extension, Rickard says. “The campaign is about telling stories. These are real-life stories, real-life people. People are open to listening to stories when they are sitting in the theater.”

The ILR is not the only group to try to take advantage of the captive audience before the movie. According to Dave Kupiec, president and chairman of the Cinema Advertising Council, a variety of interest groups have started purchasing pre-show ad time for their causes, including the American Diabetes Association, the Council for Drug Free Youth and Autism Speaks.

Kupiec says his trade group’s research shows that theater goers are open-minded about short films, and that they’d rather watch a message than an image of a dancing Coke can. “Most of these ads are running for awareness,” he says of the high ratio of cause-related ads in pre-trailer screen time.

“Movie advertising is not like TV advertising. It is not designed for a knee-jerk reaction, trying to get you to pick up the phone. [The ILR campaign] is a great example of that.”

While the ILR says it is not trying to use the campaign as a call to action, it is measuring the impact of its multimedia campaign. The group says traffic to its website at has increased to a total of 3.2 million video views since the multimillion-dollar campaign started, with about half of those hits coming after the movie campaign began in May.

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