Canadian law firm, Torys, is no stranger to using multimedia to present its annual Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) Trends. Their efforts in making a video podcast of the report even earned them the “Marketing Initiative of the Year” award at the Marketing Partner Forum in January 2007. The video podcasts have been well received by their clients, but Torys took the idea to a higher level this year by creating an animated version of their trends report using white board animation, through the talents of animator Ben Rivers, to enhance the viewer’s experience. Torys animated M&A Trends for 2011 even surpasses our idea we had last year about turning those legal trends surveys into children’s books.

I had a chance to correspond with the voice behind the M&A Trends video, co-leader of Torys’ M&A Practice, Matthew Cockburn, to discuss the details behind the making of the video. I could tell right away from Matt’s responses that he is extremely proud of the video, and loved how Ben Rivers’ artwork brought the subject matter to life. The group of lawyers and marketing professionals at Torys storyboarded the topic and came up with some outlines for Rivers to use along with the recorded audio. “Ben really understood what we were looking for and did a great job,” commented Cockburn.

It seems that the most difficult part of the process was the storyboarding.  Cockburn said that “it took several days to prepare the storyboard and develop the style.” However, once the group settled on the storyboard they wanted to go with, Ben Rivers came into the Toronto office of Torys to create the drawings and shoot the video. So, after days of sweating over the details of the storyboarding, the actual video shooting only took one day.

I asked Matt Cockburn why Torys decided to go with a white board story telling of the M&A trends report, and have they received any feedback from their clients yet. He told me that they had “sent the Trends publication out to our clients and contacts with a link to our M&A Top Trends microsite.” With the 2011 edition being the fifth year of the popular Torys publication, the response from the clients has been very positive. “The feedback has been great. We have had a number of comments from clients telling us how much they enjoyed it. Most of the comments suggest that people thought the video was fresh and engaging.”

The head of Torys Marketing Department, Stuart Wood, must have been thrilled to hear clients say that a law firm’s trends report was “fresh and engaging.” Cockburn gave Wood the credit for coming up with the idea of using a white board animation video to enhance the trends report. It is also helps that Wood’s idea can also be distributed through Torys’ microsite, YouTube, Facebook, iTunes, and even through Torys’ iPhone app. It seems that all Torys is missing is broadcasting this on a local public access station.

The efforts are paying off with a increase in viewers over the previous years’ productions. “At the moment, the total views are over 1200,” Cockburn told me. Not too shabby for a topic like Mergers & Acquisitions trends in the Canadian marketplace. “Ultimately, we would like as many people as possible to read our Trends publication,” continued Cockburn, “we’ll review the metrics to see if the video helps increase interest in the publication and in our M&A practice overall.”

When I asked Matt Cockburn if he had any suggestions for other law firms contemplating doing something like this, he replied firms will “need the content to generate the interest in the first place. As a firm, we have had great success with the Top Trends publication and so this year we gave it a new twist. But we really focus on the content first.”

Finally, I wondered if Torys had any plans to try this again in the future. Cockburn didn’t hesitate in responding with a firm “Yes” on that question. “Yes. We are always looking for new ways to engage with our clients. I think everyone worked well together on a tight timeline and we are very happy with the result. Ben and the rest of the production team were terrific and made the whole exercise a lot of fun.”

Well, enough of the discussion of the video for “M&A: Torys’ Top Trends for 2011,” take a look at if for yourself and see what you think about the “twist” that Torys gave their clients this year. Congratulations to Matt Cockburn, Ben Rivers and Stuart Wood for coming up with a great way to present the M&A Trends this year. I hope we see more of this from Torys (and others) this year.