Easy IMC Principles for Hardworking DAs

May 03, 2019

Karina Bowen Photo

The crime in question was committed on December 6th, 2017. The main fact of the People v. Hampton case was that a catalytic converter had been stolen from Mr. Vargas' mother's 2003 green Honda CRV. At around 3:45 a.m. on the above date, a call went out reporting two suspicious people on Broadway and a suspected car burglary. Officer Prodom and Officer Ambrick were responding to the call. Officer Prodom, on his way to the call noticed a car with paper plates making a U-turn in front of him heading away from the scene. He pulled the car over at a 76 gas station at 4 a.m. An item was noticed hidden on the back-floor panels covered with a sheet. It was suspected to be a catalytic converter. Meanwhile, Officer Ambrick arrived at Broadway and noticed the vehicle had been tampered with and was missing pieces from the undercarriage. He informed the owners and that day Mr. Vargas received the missing catalytic converter back, it was re-installed, and it was drivable again. The car was running in normal condition prior to the robbery according to Mr. Vargas, who had been using the car often for Postmates. Some of the information given by Vargas had conflicted with his initial report and one lawyer stated, "This case is turning into the OJ trial of catalytic converters." Integrated Marketing Communications principles such as, segmenting, targeting, positioning, and SWOT analysis would be highly impactful on the trial process if they were integrated into the strategies that lawyers were already using throughout the process.

During the trial, I observed that often the witness on the stand wasn't quite sure of the facts. They couldn't fully remember what had happened at what exact time or what they had originally reported. The lawyers sometimes then offered the witness the opportunity to look at the report if it would refresh their memory. I had never heard of or seen this happen before and I found it to be very useful. I was surprised this was allowed since I figured it was helping the witness when they may have been incriminating themselves by giving incorrect information. The defendants' lawyers also kept objecting far more than the prosecuting attorney. When this happened, the judge overruled the defendants' objections almost every time. The prosecuting side was also the only one who brought witnesses up to the stand.

In Integrated Marketing Communications as well as in the courtroom, one has a target audience. For the marketers those are consumers and for the lawyers those are the members of the jury. It is important to make sure that one understands their target audience and does research on them. In IMC there is a significant amount of research done in order to make sure that the chosen target audience matches the product. This is done by narrowing the pool of prospective consumers down through segmenting, targeting, and positioning. Segmenting "involves aggregating prospective buyers into groups, or segments, that ... will respond similarly to a marketing action." Basically, the population is put into larger groups based on more general characteristics such as demographics when segmenting. "When marketers divide a market based on key characteristics and personalize their strategies based on that information, there is a much higher chance of success than if they were to create a generic campaign and try to implement it across all segments." Research would need to be done in order to know what kinds of people in general would be more likely to side with their client. Just like the marketer is finding the right audience for their product the lawyer too needs the right audience for their client and case in order to be successful. People of different ages, genders, races, etc. respond differently to various people, places, things. Targeting "is a more precise definition in that it specifies a particular age category as well as particular income and education levels ... you should not only know their basic demographic characteristics, but also learn more" such as psychographics, behaviors, lifestyle, etc. For example, a segment would be adult male, medium income, lives in the United States. Targeting would be Caucasian male, 35-45, income of $50,000 a year, lives in the suburbs, reads books, is a retail manager, etc. Research is very crucial in this part of the process so one can learn what kinds of people support or believe in certain things. Once the lawyers know who they need on the jury to support their client's case, they can then have better insights on who they would like to add or remove from the options available. Lawyers could utilize this principle when making jury selections, since they want a jury that has a positive response to their client. The lawyers want to give their clients the best chance, just as the marketers want to give their product the best chance by promoting it towards the correct people. The third step is how you present your product, or how the lawyers will present their client's case. Positioning "refers to the place a product occupies in the consumer's minds based on important attributes relative to competitive products." The lawyer places an idea into the mind of the audience that creates an identity for his client/case and causes it to be perceived in a specific way. "Positioning is built from what you know to be true about your customer. It takes the benefits you've outlined and makes them meaningful" This is related to the beliefs, values, and attitudes of the audience, the lawyer needs to make an appeal to these. People are inclined towards things that are like themselves.

A SWOT analysis could also be very beneficial in a trial. "By definition, Strengths (S) and Weaknesses (W) are considered to be internal factors over which you have some measure of control. Also, by definition, Opportunities (O) and Threats (T) are considered to be external factors over which you have essentially no control. It views all positive and negative factors inside and outside the firm that affect the success." When making a SWOT analysis one identifies these aspects of their current situation. It could aid the lawyers in a very simple way by showing them what areas to focus on (strength), take advantage of (opportunities), avoid (weaknesses), and be prepared to respond to (threats). This simple analysis would help the lawyers develop useful strategies that employ their resources or evidence in the case that supports their position.

These are a few IMC principles that lawyers could use during trials to produce positive effects. All of these would be case specific in how they were applied, but overall their implementation would be advantageous. Many occupations could benefit from adopting other field's strategies.


Karina Bowen, a student in Jon Pfeiffer's Spring 2019 Media Law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the above essay in response to a court case she observed at the Los Angeles Airport Courthouse.

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