Better Call Saul: A Journey In Branding

We are doing out second episode during the COVID-19 Pandemic under the Stay-At-Home order and so we decided to do another relative episode.  With everyone staying at home and binge-watching televisions - we’re

going to discuss the marketing lessons from the hit AMC TV Series “Better Call Saul” on today’s straight shot marketing podcast


Welcome, everyone. We have caught up with Better Call Saul over the pandemic. Just like many others, we have been binge-watching some TV and as marketing professionals, we see things a little differently than others. Straight Shot was born to discuss how marketing is deeply rooted in our everyday lives and impacts everything around us. So today, we are going to talk about the marketing implications WITHIN the show Better Call Saul.


That being said - if you have not watched the show - first, I encourage you to do so, it’s good. And secondly, SPOILER ALERT!!! We will be going through the series from the beginning until the latest episode before the recording of this episode so… you’ve been warned.


We won’t give away too much of the trickery and drama in the show here but Marketing is all throughout this show. You could see it back in the series Breaking Bad and its sequel El Camino… and now we can see how it all started in Better Call Saul as a prequel to Breaking Bad.


The show follows the life and career of Jimmy McGill has he turned into Saul Goodman.


Z: Now we can see from the start that Jimmy has a sense of marketing and branding. We’ll follow along and discuss as he develops the brand of Saul Goodman.


J: Now the name goes back to his youth. He’s known as ‘Slipping’ Jimmy” and sometimes Saul Goodman because “It’s All Good Man”


Z: His brother is a lawyer who bails him out of jail and brings him from Chicago to New Mexico to start a new life and stop being a “scumbag”


J: He starts working in his brother’s law firm’s mailroom, puts himself through law school, and becomes Jimmy McGill Attorney At Law.


Z: So that’s where we start the story, aside from the numerous flashbacks and flash-forwards in the show. He is Jimmy McGill... it’s the early 90s - social media doesn’t exist yet, and the internet is in its infancy still….  and the first marketing tool that we see him use - Matchbooks. And his slogan was “A lawyer you can trust” … so his brand differentiator, was that he was trustworthy…


J: Which is something he considered rare among lawyers. But the overall look … very generic.


Z: I think that was by design… a mistake… but on purpose. He hadn’t narrowed his niche to a certain group of people or a certain section oft he law. He hadn’t quite found himself yet…. As a business. He knew who he was but he was busy trying to be someone else. He was trying to be what his brother thought he should be.


J: But it wasn’t really working for him. His brother wouldn’t hire him, so he was peddling the payment out on his own. Like many business owners, he had limited funds. He was working out of the back of a nail salon. And he was struggling through pro-bono clients until he could build a reputation for himself… which is hard to do without a brand to communicate to others.


Z: But all of these pro-bonos, relationships with other lawyers and judges, and his efforts to get real clients… provided him with a lot of information.


So, let’s break that down. He had multiple audiences for his business. Two of the main ones: his peers and Colleagues and then Potential Clients. This life-experience with them served as targeted audience research…. And he learned one very valuable piece of information:


J: So he had that working against him.


Z: Well he took that information and decided that being himself, wasn’t the way to go. So he started to mold himself after successful lawyers… real and fictional.


J:  He started close to home. A began to copy his competition… particularly, the head of his brother’s law firm. And that got him into trouble:


Z: But even that, he turned into a publicity stunt to help him gain clients:


J: So he understood the value of marketing, he understood how it worked. He just didn’t have his own brand yet. And learned that trying to steal the brand of his competition wasn’t going to work for him.


Z: Even so, this stunt starts his phone ta ringing. And the majority of the new work he received was for Elder Law… so that’s the target he decided to take. So he has a niche audience and area of practice..but still, no brand. So he then he patterned himself after a successful, fictional lawyer that appealed to his new target. Matlock.


J And as a Matlock clone, he turned on the marketing:


Z: Yes, He distributed co-branded jello

Made visits to nursing homes

He hosted bingo at assisted living facilities

He understood targeted marketing.


J: Through a discovery, while targeting the elderly, he lands a big class-action suit… too big and he sells it to HHM who then has to partner with Davis and Main, who hires Jimmy to be in charge of client relations with the elderly.


Z: He using his… unique tactics


J: Slippin Jimmy tactics


Z: to sign new clients for the class-action suit


J: And he makes his first commercial. But before we talk about his commercial… let’s pay our own bills with a word from this episode’s sponsors.


J: Alright, so back to our story. Jimmy makes a commercial for Davis and Main

Z: And he does it without their permission… which jeopardizes the policing of their brand. And they have to put him in his place with a stern warning.

J: Even though it worked… the phones started ringing off the hook and lots more clients were signed onto the class action lawsuit.


J: So after the stern conversation with the partners at Davis and Main, he makes a plan to leave the firm and go out on his own again. And how best to do that? With a commercial!


J: And then after the commercial, the calls start coming in and he becomes very business once again.



Z: Now, because of being in another firm which he feels ISNT a good match for him, he gets a better idea of who he wants to be. Jimmy is a guy that doesn’t ask permission, a guy that cuts corners, a guy that isn’t afraid to break some rules.


J: And when he decides to break some rules for his girlfriend, fellow lawyer Kim Wexler, it comes back to bite him. And he gets suspended by the Bar. So now Jimmy is out of work, has to pass his clients onto other people, and has to turn off his marketing campaign. Which poses a problem.


Z: He has a contract with a TV station for a certain number of ads… and now, not only is he without income, but he has this commitment that he can’t resell.


J: But Jimmy finds away around that. A way to fix both problems at one time while helping others. He decides to use his celebrity from being in TV commercials to produce commercials for other local businesses and GIVE the airtime away (meaning the media costs were absorbed into the production costs for the commercials), But no one is biting…at least not in the time frame that he has before he has to run his next spot. So what does he do? He makes a commercial for himself… in disguise, as Saul Goodman


Z: And again, the videos work. He balances his new job with his community service (leftover punishment from the last misgiving with Kim and his brother Chuck) and is finally able to produce enough commercials to run during his contracted media buy.


J: Then he’s tired of it, he’s not a marketing agency, he’s not a production company, so he moves onto the next adventure in his life. Cell Phone Sales.


Z: That and his side scams where he is working with the seedy underbelly of society doing small criminal activity, like hiring thieves to do small “jobs” for him to make more money. So he’s getting to know the criminal community of Albuquerque. And he discovers something that he can use… in his new business.


J: But still he’s bored. And he knows, from a business standpoint. The best way to get customers is to go to them. So he heads out into the criminal community to sell burner phones. At first, he has a branding problem… he looks like a lawyer or a cop. So he makes a change to become Saul Goodman once more and open doors in the criminal community.


J: Now it’s getting close to the end of his year’s suspension and he moves to his secondary target audience: the lawyer world. After being rejected because he seems insincere in his remote for what he did to get suspended, he and Kim launch a campaigner him to regain favor in the lawyer community.


Z: He makes his final plea and is reinstated as a lawyer. But now, he has a new focus - criminal law… since he has gotten to know the criminal community. And he has a new brand…. Saul Goodman…well known in the criminal community.


J: He starts with a street event… where he uses cell phones, which he knows they need, as promo items for his new law practice as Saul Goodman. We see fliers and bags, and phones that have him on speed dial.


Z: he also does bus stop ads, yellow pages, billboards, and of course commercials. He even uses video as an intimidation technique against Kim Wexler’s client Mesa Verde.


J: And that’s where we are in the series today... Episode 6 of season 5.  So Zachary, what is our Straight Shot for this episode:


Z: Let’s see the Straight Shot summary for the Lessons Learned From Better Call Saul


  1. Marketing works. .. which brings him lots of clients. But also becomes a problem when he tries to hide from the law. In a flash-forward scene at the beginning of Season 5, we see where a New Mexico native recognizes him and his brand from his commercials while he’s in hiding in Nebraska.
  2. Specifically, VIDEO works great as a medium. Now, he didn’t have social media and the internet to the extent that we do now in 2020. But video is still a great medium for communicating your brand and getting customers.
  3. Jimmy did things the hard way… in a lot of areas… but specifically relative to this show, brand development. He took a lot of time and experienced a lot of hardship in an effort to find who he was supposed to be. As a marketing agency, Reformation Productions does brand development for clients and it’s a much more streamlined, faster, and more efficient process than jimmy’s hard knocks life. But the steps were still there: Identification - what’s your visions, what are your strengths, what is your character. And Consumer Research - what is a need in your field that you can fill. And what can you do that makes you different from others.
  4. Finally, jimmy used several different tools for communicating his brand… all within the campaign that he was using: His dress (in some cases that might be considered his uniform), matchbooks, fliers, yellow page advertising, signage, tv commercials, business cards…. He used every available method to reach his target audience with his brand messaging.


J: So ends our exploration of Better Call Saul through the eyes of marketing. The series isn’t over it yet. So if you’ve watched it. Let us know your thoughts about the show in the comments on our social media. We’ll be continuing to watch it right along beside you. Has anything happened in the show since we’ve recorded this episode of Straight Shot that stands out from a marketing perspective? Let’s talk about it. And of course, please hit that like button and subscribe to us so you stay in the know whenever we release new episodes. You can also text the word Reformation to the number 90210 to receive text notifications when new shows are released.

So until next time, Bye.


Category Straight Shot Marketing Podcast


Reformation Productions is a full service marketing agency in the Atlanta, GA metro. To find out more about the agency  visit www.ReformationProductions.com. Connect with us on Facebook at fb.com/reformationproductions. Blog content is © Reformation Productions. To receive more marketing tips and insights, sign up for our newsletter, Straight Shot, at www.ReformationProductions.com/contact.html to be one of the first to know when they are published here at www.ReformationProductions.com. You can also sign up for notifications by texting "Reformation" to 90210 from your mobile phone.