Ed V. Traditional Advertising
How Ed Herman amassed millions of YouTube views
Published in 2021 Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyers magazine on November 15, 2021
As a lawyer with a statewide presence, Ed Herman gets recognized occasionally. Recently, though, the interactions have been a little different.
“I took an Uber yesterday, and when the door opened, the driver just totally went nuts,” Herman says with a laugh. He assumed the driver mistook him for someone else. “But then, he’s like, ‘I love that bathroom video,’ and he wanted to take pictures. It was a really cool moment.”
In November 2018, Herman’s firm, Brown & Crouppen, was looking for a way to expand its reach—especially online. They already had well-known TV commercials and billboards, but, as Herman notes, internet advertising is a bit trickier: People can skip ads, put a video on mute, or keep swiping. “So we thought, ‘How do we get brand affection? How do we get people to feel close to us? Likeability, approachability, relatability,’” he says. “We tried to keep everything we did very relatable and funny.”
Though Herman had played around with camcorders with his brother growing up, he’d never really done any kind of performing. Regardless, he began starring in a series of unscripted, droll YouTube videos: “Ed V. Naps,” “Ed V. Utensils,” “Ed V. Airplanes,” wherein he launches into light-hearted soliloquies about the subjects at hand. The videos have garnered millions of views.
“In my personal life, people thought I was pretty funny, and I always had a take on things,” he says. “So we thought, ‘Let’s play that out.’ I brainstormed a lot of topics that I felt I had some strong feelings on or observations about. We discovered that people really connect with enthusiasm and a sense that a person’s being their genuine self.”
Herman further stars in the series “3 Lawyers Eating Sandwiches” with founding partner Terry Crouppen and managing partner Andy Crouppen. In each video, the trio eats at a local restaurant like Pigwich in Kansas City or Gioia’s Deli in St. Louis. “As much as I love doing the sandwich videos with the guys, I definitely have more fun doing the ‘Ed V.’ stuff,” Herman says. “I don’t get to eat as much—but we’re lawyers, so we are camera hogs. In ‘Ed V.,’ I don’t have to share.”
Case in point: “Ed V. Bathrooms”—Herman’s Citizen Kane—in which he breaks down his bathroom preferences, the ways that other species defecate, and his struggles with public restrooms. “It was a passion project. It’s light and fun, but it was, really, personally cathartic,” he says. “Everything I do on there is true. I’m not an exaggerator. ‘Bathrooms’ was my most personal video, and also my most relatable.”
According to Herman, it’s that relatability that drives the success of Brown & Crouppen’s videos. And though they’re absolutely goofy, he says they show intelligence, creativity, and thoughtfulness—among other characteristics a client seeks in an attorney. “Certainly ‘3 Lawyers Eating Sandwiches’ has helped us deepen our bond with the community, because we’re going to local places, promoting local businesses,” Herman says. “That’s just something a carpetbagger from another state is never going to be able to compete with.”
Moving forward, the “Ed V.” videos will have an increased focus on food—a main interest for Herman, who stresses that letting clients see an attorney’s personality can be more effective than a traditional advertising campaign.
“Find what you’re genuinely passionate about so you can give people a little glimpse of who you are,” he says. “People can detect it; you cannot fake it. It doesn’t have to be about the law—just find a way to let them in, and they will form a bond with you.”