It's an advertising campaign with all the subtlety and finesse of an intoxicated streaker at a football game. A commercial for law firm McCutcheon & Hamner, P.C. is going viral for all the wrong reasons, even as the creators and their client, the law firm, duke it out over the concept.
The video features a white man named Mr. Wong Fong Shu in closed-eye costume glasses and a bamboo hat yelling in an Asian voice; check it out:
It's no wonder they would want to dissociate their law firm from the video Time Magazine is calling "the most racist 'not racist' ad for a law firm."
McCutcheon & Hamner claim they never approved the video; in fact, they posted a statement on their Facebook Page that said their YouTube channel was hacked.
Not so, says Jim DeBerry, executive with video production company Definitive Television, who claims his company was contracted "through an intermediary" to produce the video. The script, he says, was written and submitted by the law firm.
The video in question was removed from the law firm's YouTube channel, but remains live on Definitive Television's channel, where it has over a quarter of a million views.
DeBerry tweeted Tuesday that he was considering removing the video, with conditions:
However, ten hours later, the video's description on YouTube was updated and reads, in part:
"WE ARE UNDER NO OBLIGATION TO TAKE DOWN THE VIDEO, AFTER CONSIDERING THE PUBLIC VIEWING INTEREST WE WILL KEEP IT UP.
A COUPLE OF FACTS TO KNOW
McCutcheon & Hamner, P.C. have never called us saying we didn't create this video and wanted it down, because they know they did. in our opinion they had hope it would just go away and be brushed under the rug.
They are attempting to do damage control. I have provided proof they ordered the video from us, Which they know I have. That is the likely reason why they haven't filed a frivolous lawsuit, they have never filed a cease and desist. We obliviously would have them for libel and as attorneys they know this. When I telephoned them and asked them why they had been lying about us, i explained to them i wouldn't back down from any legal threats and not afraid because all parties now the facts and i will release them if i feel necessary. We had previously attempt to play nice with the former client prior to them becoming disgruntled and placing us at fault."
McCutcheon & Hamner's Joel Hamner told ABA Journal he's received death threats over the video. He also told Above the Law magazine that the firm has completed an internal financial review and did not contract Definitive Television to produce the video, either directly or through an approved agent.
For his part, Definitive Television's DeBerry admits documentation was a "loose" procedure. Translation: he can't quite back up his claim.
DeBerry underscored his lack of remorse and failure to comprehend the inappropriate nature of his video when he tweeted the standard "I'm not racist" defense:
It's unclear whether DeBerry considers Mr. Wong Fong Shu among his minority employees.
For now, the video is live, as McCutcheon & Hamner "investigate their legal options."
In this case, all publicity is not good publicity, especially for a company asking clients to trust their judgment in representing the brand in front of potentially millions of online viewers.
Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect that McCutcheon & Hamner's Facebook Page is still active.
The Original Search Marketing Event is Back!
SES Denver (Oct 16) offers an intense day of learning all the critical aspects of search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search advertising (PPC). The mission of SES remains the same as it did from the start - to help you master being found on search engines. Early Bird rates available through Sept 12. Register today!