The McClure’s Pickles brothers are not lawyers, ...

The McClure’s Pickles brothers are not lawyers, no matter what the billboards suggest

But their parody of ubiquitous attorney ads might make you look twice.

McClure’s Pickles co-owners Bob McClure, left, and Joe McClure, right, want to be clear: they aren’t attorneys, and the only emergencies they can help with are pickle-related. Courtesy photo

“Have you or someone you loved been positively affected by pickles? Does the sound of an opening pickle jar distract you? Have you been the beneficiary of pickle-related deliciousness?”

That’s the beginning of the message that plays for callers who dial 1-866-4-MCCLURES, currently emblazoned on three billboards along I-94, I-75 and I-275 in the Detroit metro area. During last week’s snowstorm, I caught a glimpse of the one on I-94 near Cadieux. It took a minute of navigating the sleet before the joke sunk in: A personal injury attorney ad parody, for pickles. As an established fan of meta billboards, I couldn’t resist calling up McClure’s Pickles for the backstory. 

“Legal aid ads, in addition to marijuana ads, it’s pretty much all you see nowadays, going up and down the freeway,” explained Bob McClure, co-owner of the Detroit pickling behemoth. “They’ve gotten to a point where it’s a little bit absurd, where it’s just like a picture of the person’s face…. It’s kind of like they’ve gotten to the next level, like how can they top each other in terms of their advertisements.”

Though attorney billboards are ubiquitous nationwide, McClure cited advertising from Joumana Kayrouz, Mike Morse and other well-known local lawyer names (and faces) as the inspiration for the billboards. They were designed by McClure’s creative agency, Lafayette American. 

“We figured with our company, which is not legal services, that it would certainly catch the eyes of passersby,” McClure said, “and with some really great creative copy to make people – even maybe those attorneys who advertise everything – get a laugh out of it.” 

McClure founded McClure’s Pickles with his brother Joe McClure in 2006 using their great grandmother’s spicy recipe, after a childhood that featured regular pickling marathons. With jarred pickles, pickle-flavored chips, Bloody Mary mix and a few other products, they’re a newer local staple, and are also stocked in hundreds of stores nationally. The business has kept its family ties as it’s grown to a large-scale operation – their father, Mike McClure, makes a pretty convincing announcer as the voice behind the pickle hotline message.

A few dozen people have called in and left positive feedback, McClure said, though he acknowledged billboards may not be the most effective way to sell a jar of pickles (though the hotline does offer callers a discount code). 

“This is really just going to drive brand awareness. We have a fairly competitive space, but the more that I can drive people to think about McClure’s and get kind of interested in going…, ‘a pickle company, a food item that I normally maybe wouldn’t think of as being too out-of-the-box or creative, is taking a really interesting point of view on it,’ [the better].”

At least until the other pickle companies get in on the billboard action, anyway – though McClure’s might already be a step ahead by then. They’ve started sponsoring pickleball events, are creating regulation pickleball paddles and just wrapped up shooting on a live-action ad spot last week, coming soon to a local station or online video near you. 

Kate Abbey-Lambertz is the co-founder and editorial director for Detour Media. She leads editorial strategy for the signature Detour Detroit newsletter, The Blend and special projects, while shaping Detour’s membership program, audience development initiatives and design. Kate was previously a national reporter at HuffPost, where she covered equitable cities and urban issues. She launched HuffPost’s Detroit vertical, serving as reporter and editor, and has reported on Detroit for a decade. Follow her on Twitter: @kabbeyl