Television advertisements for DirecTV that have featured actor Rob Lowe in them are being discontinued. The decision was made by DirecTV after certain claims that were being made in the commercials were pointed out as being untrue by the National Advertising Division (NAD). The NAD is a consumer watchdog group and part of the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
Comcast initially took issue with the commercials saying the claims that were being made in the them were not true. In one commercial, DirecTV claimed they have a 99 percent television signal reliability. In another ad, they claimed to have the best sound and picture quality. In yet another, the claim was that they outperform all other cable providers in customer satisfaction.
After Comcast’s initial questioning of the statements being made within these ads, the NAD sided with them. They confirmed that DirecTV had no way of supporting their claims of better picture or sound quality. They also said they had no evidence to support that they outperformed the other cable providers in customer satisfaction. The NAD did, however, say that their claims for 99 percent signal reliability was true.
The Lowe advertisements’ were launched in October of 2014 and became very popular. In the comedic TV spots, they featured a DirecTV customer version of Lowe, and then, a lesser more pathetic version of Lowe, who was not a customer of DirecTV. While the NAD admitted that the humor was creative and effective, they also said that DirecTV needed to make sure the advertisements were giving accurate representations of their product. They added that the comedy aspect does not excuse them from this responsibility to the consumer.
DirecTV said that they would be discontinuing the commercials, adding that the series was coming towards the end of their run anyhow. In fact, they have already started showing their newer advertisements. These new spots featured model Hannah Davis on a beach and riding on a horse that talks.
Regardless of DirecTV’s compliance with the NAD to discontinue the advertisements, they say they are still going to make an appeal. They stated that the advertisements featuring Lowe were so outlandish and ridiculous that there is no way that any educated consumer could possibly believe that the sentiments being echoed by the alter ego version of Lowe could be comparative or sustained.
If the recommendation made by the NAD to discontinue the advertisements was not adhered to by DirecTV, the NAD would have had the option of sending the case up the ladder to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Lowe took exception to all of this, and sarcastically commented on Twitter, that in order for something to be original and funny these days, there needs to be fallout.
Amid the controversy of the claims that could not be substantiated in the commercials, one thing is for certain. The ads did their job in selling and were effective. In the quarter before the Lowe ads began to air, DirecTV had reported a loss of 28,000 subscribers. In the quarter after the ads started airing, the company gained 149,000 customers. What will be telling is the quarter following the discontinuation of the commercials featuring Rob Lowe to see if there is a loss of DirecTV customers.
By Alec Rosenberg