The study was carried out on 50 global business managers to see whether they would be persuaded by made-up advertising and branding assets to favour fictitious American law firms and management consultancies over real ones.
Three made-up law firms, Andersson & Cooper Associates, Reagan Rove Coolidge and JMM Global, were pitted against real corporate firms Baker & McKenzie, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom and DLA Piper.
Similarly three real management consultancies (Bain & Company, Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey & Company) were up against fictional ones - Wayne & Company, Oxford Consulting Group and McIntosh & Company.
The results found that business managers were more likely to say they would use the services of the fake law firms than the real ones.
However, business managers were less likely to favour fictitious management consultancies over real ones. The study concluded that for management consultancies, publicity is not necessarily better than advertising as there are already established brands in the sector, of which the public are aware.
Author of the study Nicolai Rossen, managing partner of PR consultancy Rossen & Company, said: "If you’re an unknown corporate law firm, you can position or even fake yourself as the best brand in business in the perception of the market, through publicity and the press.
"The competition from big US law conglomerates suffers from a case of terribly bad branding. Few can articulate the McKinsey, Bain or BCG of corporate law, and this lack of prior knowledge plays to the advantage of the ambitious law firm seeking to expand using PR."
The study was carried out by Nicolai Rossen with the universities UPF Barcelona and Stirling University in Scotland.