In S2E3 (Amarillo) of Better Call Saul, Jimmy runs a commercial advertising the legal battle between Sandpiper Crossing and Davis & Main law firm.

Jimmy, fed up with being not being able to work in the way he wants, runs the commercial without the approval of the partners at his firm. While the commercial is a resound success, for some reason Jimmy is reprimanded by the leaders of Davis & Main and is scolded by his brother. Kim Wexler, who does not even work at Davis & Main is demoted because of Jimmy's actions.

I don't understand why Jimmy gets in such severe trouble for running the commercial. I can understand that he was supposed to get approval to run the TV ad but he nearly loses his job, and a person he's merely associated with get similar punishment.

What was the big deal? Clearly the commercial was a colossal success, and it was his job to secure clients for the the law firm.


3 Answers 3


In some circles of the legal and business community, TV advertisements by lawyers are viewed as tawdry, and a sign of desperation.

The other answers adequately cover the fact that Jimmy ran the ad before having it approved, going against direct orders from Main. I will add to this that television advertising by lawyers is often viewed as a cheap, tacky move employed by unscrupulous types of lawyers seeking to hustle people into filing law suits. A form of televised ambulance-chasing if you will.

You may recall earlier in the series, Charles McGill actually bemoans the court decision that first allowed lawyers to advertise. In the legal profession, you want to be seen as not needing such "tricks," and relying on an excellent reputation to bring in business. Charles found ads like that manipulative and unbecoming a lawyer.

Cliff Main emphasizes that this perception goes beyond just what lawyers thinks. He tells Jimmy that such an ad could make D&M's other clients question whether they want to associate with a firm that runs ads like that, and that it would turn off prospective clients as well. People in the business community--the kind of clients D&M courts--want a firm with class and restraint, not a bunch of "ambulance chasers." It makes a firm look like it is desperate for business, which then begs some questions: Why are they desperate for business? What is wrong with them?

Main himself felt like a bit of a risk-taker, running his bland, text and facts-only TV ad for the asbestos claims (and only on late night TV). But such an ad that makes no appeal to emotion and just states facts as blandly as possible was the furthest extent that he felt a reputable law firm should go. Carting out an old lady and dramatizing her plight in such a manipulative way is simply too sleazy for high end lawyers.


As BCdotWEB says, he didn't get permission for what he did, he didn't even ask if his commercial would be accepted. Why? Because he saw what passed for their commercial earlier. It was pretty much a statement of facts made in as neutral and boring way as possible. Jimmy didn't think there was much of a chance they would accept the thing he proposed.

While his version was a "better" commercial, the company didn't want to make people do things. They just wanted to inform, not play on peoples feelings, which was Jimmy's forte. Such, commercials could undermine their reputation - they were respectable, not cunning. This showed quite well, that Jimmy didn't really fit there.


Because he didn't follow procedure and get permission first.

As explained here:

But Kim momentarily takes his breath away with her confidence and support: "You and I both know you can do this job. But please, you just have to do it right," she emphasizes. [...]

And he ends up with a compromised version of "doing the right thing" that reminds me most of Frank Sobotka in season two of The Wire. "I knew I was wrong," Sobotka reflected once all his crooked dealings caught up with him. "But in my head, I thought I was wrong for the right reasons."

"Who Stole My Nest Egg?!" may have been filmed abiding by the rules and regulations of the American Bar Association, but Jimmy made the fatal decision that it'd be easier to smooth things over with Cliff after the fact. He took a big risk thinking that his results would dazzle them and overshadow his questionable methods. It's the kind of mindset Saul Goodman will use to get away with a lot of shit in the future, but Jimmy McGill can't pull these shenanigans on his current corporate overlords (especially not when he's dealing in half-measures, and we all know how useless those are). It doesn't matter that he really did get results—103 phone calls came in thanks to a $700, under the radar commercial. Cliff has lost trust in him, and he sees who he is now: Jimmy isn't "a little eccentric," he's "a goddamn arsonist."

  • I feel like a bit of this answer went over my head, especially because I've never seen The Wire. But to summarize, it really was just because he didn't get permission? I guess I still feel like that's insufficient reasoning. Calling Jimmy an arsonist certainly seems like overkill to me.
    – PausePause
    Jun 16, 2022 at 22:20
  • 2
    @PausePause Firms like that cannot have their employees go rogue and hope for the best. Moreover, the process is possibly there because of bad experiences in the past. Cliff was warned by others about Jimmy and he gave him the benefit of the doubt, and already soon into his employment he breaks their rules -- knowingly! Consider that they tested their boring ad and that they worried about the graphics in them, and now here Jimmy bypasses that entire process. That this happened to end well, is not relevant.
    – BCdotWEB
    Jun 16, 2022 at 22:36

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