DirecTV Told to Pull Rob Lowe Ads After Comcast Complaint

directv rob lowe ad

DirecTV’s ad campaign featuring thesp Rob Lowe’s alter-ego personas — he’s cooler and more confident as a subscriber of the satcaster, while creepy and lame as a cable TV sub — should be discontinued, according to an advertising trade group.

The Council of Better Business Bureau’s National Advertising Division, ruling on a complaint by Comcast, said DirecTV should discontinue certain claims made in a series of TV commercials featuring Lowe.

Comcast challenged multiple DirecTV claims in the spots, including that “With DirecTV you get 99% signal reliability” and that customers would get the industry’s “best picture quality and sound.”

DirecTV said it would appeal NAD’s findings. The company contended that “the various Rob Lowe advertisements are so outlandish and exaggerated that no reasonable consumer would believe that the statements being made by the alter-ego characters are comparative or need to be substantiated.”

But the whole dispute appears largely academic, at this point. According to DirecTV, the company earlier this month discontinued the Rob Lowe campaign, launched last September, as previously planned. The satcaster’s current spots feature Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Hannah Davis and a talking horse; she formerly appeared in DirecTV’s ad campaign for the Genie DVR.

“The Rob Lowe campaign was always scheduled to end at the end of Q1 — we wanted to launch our new campaign with Hannah Davis in the (NCAA men’s basketball) Final Four,” Jon Gieselman, DirecTV SVP of marketing and advertising, said in a statement. “We always reserve the right to bring back the Rob Lowe campaign, either in its current form or with new spots; it has been extremely successful for the brand.”

NAD said it considered whether the ads at issue implied that DirecTV offers superior signal reliability, picture quality, sound performance, more sports programming, and more prompt installation and service than cable companies, among other factors.

The group said that although “humor can be an effective and creative way for advertisers to highlight the differences between their products and their competitor’s, humor and hyperbole do not relieve an advertiser of the obligation to support messages that their advertisements might reasonably convey — especially if the advertising disparages a competitor’s product.”

Decisions by the NAD, as an advertising-claims arbiter among voluntarily participating companies, are not legally binding. However, the group says it refers disputes to appropriate government agencies if offending advertisers don’t comply with its recommendations.

The DirecTV ads — featuring the love theme from “St. Elmo’s Fire,” in which Lowe co-starred — did not cite Comcast specifically. Following its review, NAD said it determined that DirecTV’s testing substantiated its 99% signal reliability claim — but that it recommended the company drop claims that it has better signal reliability, shorter customer-service wait times and better picture and sound quality than cable operators.

In addition, NAD said that the claim “Don’t be like this me. Get rid of cable and upgrade to DirecTV” — which appeared at the end of the commercials — conveyed a “comparative and unsupported superiority message.”

The DirecTV last fall was criticized by the International Paruresis Assn. for making fun of lame-Rob-Lowe’s inability to pee in front of others in one spot, calling it insensitive to those who have “shy bladder.”

Watch the “Crazy Hairy Rob Lowe” ad from DirecTV:

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  1. Why not have some white celebrity for directv and then the black faced version for comcast. Have the white one be all rich and civilized, while the black one has his pants below his waist and a bandana on his arm. This is sarcasm by the way, but they might as well with all the other insults they throw at people.

  2. Choke says:

    I found these commercials to be hilarious!
    Comcast should have just hired a better marketing company to make even more clever and hilarious commercials

    Not many people actually switch providers over the humor of their commercials. Commercials are just to make people aware of that companies existence.

    Ultimately cable is a good $40/ mo less than comparable services for DIRECT TV or DISH in my area. Obviously I’m a cable subscriber but can laugh at this.

  3. David Bagdon says:

    The the best commercial advertising I’ve ever watched!Funny as hell,and had a message.It’s not going to influence me to get Direct TV.The one tv ad I wouldn’t mute,way too funny.Don’t STOP,because
    it offends someone that needs something
    to rant about.

  4. Anne says:

    I’m so glad Rob BLOW is no longer in DirecTV commercials. I was sick of DirecTV making fun of people for being short, skinny, having social anxiety, etc. (things that people can’t change about themselves) and portraying them as losers. It was ignorant, arrogant, and just plain insulting. Not even remotely funny. Hopefully, DirecTV will get a sense of humor and learn how to make good commercials.

  5. John Virgilio says:

    Some of these are fine, like hippie and train loving but, “Don’t be like this me.”, someone who is short? Really? That’s not possible, and it is hurtful. I feel for those who are short watching this. It needs to be pulled.

    • Anne says:

      Yeah. I’m not short, but that commercial is really insensitive. Your height is something you can’t change and being short doesn’t make you less of a person, and it’s disgusting that DirecTV would imply that being short is a flaw. It was also ignorant of them to imply that those of us with shy bladders and social anxiety are pathetic losers. These commercials are revolting.

  6. How do we get Direct TV to take off the new commercials. For example the Randy Moss commercial is offensive to me. I am 4 foot 10. Does that make me a lesser person than someone as tall as Randy Moss? Is there another version of me? If I buy this product will I be over 6 foot tall? Is this something wrong with me because I am short? Why would Direct TV imply that? Being tall wouldn’t make me a better person. All of these Direct TV commercials should be taken off the air.

  7. Marilyn W Reed says:

    Direct tv commercials can only advertise their services by ridiculing/making fun of other people, people who have mental/physical/social disabilities. Granted these are exagerated cases but they have roots in real people’s suffering. Shame on them and shame on all that participate in these commercials.

    • Anne says:

      Exactly. As someone who’s had a shy bladder for most of her life (in addition to social anxiety in general) and who is underweight and has trouble gaining weight and is always made fun of for having “scrawny arms”, these commercials disgust me. I’m so sick of people telling me to lighten up because these commercials are “funny”. They’re not funny. They’re some of the worst commercials I’ve ever seen. And I’ve always hated Rob Lowe, but these commercials make me hate him even more. He sucks, DirecTV’s commercials suck, and the fact that people don’t see how hurtful and insensitive these cruddy commercials are sucks.

  8. Mindy Spano says:

    Most ridiculous commercial I have ever seen, it wasn’t bad enough that they added a talking horse but now the house is making statements about Hannah washing his dirty knees. I would like someone to explain to me what these commercials have anything to do with satellite TV …. horses neither talk nor watch TV? ? ? ? Who the hell thinks these thing up?

  9. Elaine says:

    First, it was the Rob Lowe commercial which I couldn’t stand. Now, it’s a horse. Then a goat. Why would anyone want to use Direct TV? They charge more than other companies then they use the money for ignorant commercials such as these? Really? How old are the children running that place? Whoever is responsible for the ads for Direct TV should be demoted or fired.

  10. Barbara says:

    Bring back Rob lowe one of the best commercials on tv give that man an emmy besides he is only saying what he was told

  11. Jojo Dogboy says:

    Rob Lowe rules! Talking horse drools! I hated mr. Ed as a kid, and I hate this ass of a horse that “talks” even more. Especially the pompous British(?) accent! Directv- make it stop, or I’ll go back to cable!

  12. kevin girts says:

    Comcast’s complaints just point out two things. First, that the ads were working and second, that Comcast IS the inferior company. The lack of common sense shown by the BBB’s NAD is mind boggling. Someone at the NAD should look up hyperbole. Next thing you know DirecTV will have to pull its current ads for misleading the public into believing a horse can talk.

  13. Stacy says:

    Look Rob Lowe as a 60 year old movie star doing commercials. #lifefail

  14. sherise says:

    Original, funny and very easy to relate the altered ego Rob to many people you know!!!!! Cleaver!

  15. I LOVE the commecials! EVERYONE I KNOW LOVES THE COMMERCIALS!! Give me a break, no sane human being ACTUALLY FINDS THESE COMMERCIALS “OFFENSIVE.” Hmmm…. -Sounds to me like it’s merely the jealousy of the COMPETETORS who are actually the one’s “Speaking out” & maybe just concerned about the success of the ads, therefore speaking out against them under false pretenses… The ads are clever, funny, & (so rarely found in commercials) -ENTERTAINING!! What a shame there’s always some cry baby out there trying to ruin an origional idea.
    -Hey There’s an idea, how about one featuring a “Cry baby Rob Lowe” as one last blow to the industry for unnecessarily stepping in & ruining a rare, funny, unique, & successful ad compaign!

  16. Joan says:

    Those ads are the most deplorable. Same on Rob Lowe to lower himself must need the money. Joan

  17. Rob Lowe is incredibly good looking and awesome….”long live direct TV!!”

  18. Mac888 says:

    Couldn’t care less…lousy actor imo.

  19. Screw DirecTV says:

    I’m ready to yank DirecTV. I can’t believe they’d bill me as much as they do to throw this mind-numbing our-s^&t-doesn’t stink-and-you-should-feel-privileged-to-be-charged-more advertising in my face. And then they have the nerve to tell me that, if I want the bill lowered to something reasonable, I have to go do their sales job by recruiting people to join this over-priced degrading media money pit. Worhtless s^&ts. They’re gone!….And they can take the inane, insane Rob Lowe with them.

  20. Rick Francis says:

    Thank god we have YouTube I can watch these anytime I want. and F$%K Cumcast!!

  21. Joann3 says:

    I agree the GUY is funny !!! I do not see to what COMCAST complaint is based on…???? seriously…

  22. Stargazer says:

    I thought the ads were hilarious! Comcast needs to get a life. Rob Lowe was perfect for the part!

  23. Waquoit says:

    Not funny? That line “I’m eating this tuna sandwich I found on the bus” is hilarious.

  24. Nancy says:

    Comcast service and the people at customer service are all unworthy!! And that’s the same all over the nation! They bill you for service you never had, (in my case $750.00 for 2 months service) then refuse to acknowledge that their billing system is inferior as well as their services?? Don’t even bother calling repair!! They don’t care if you have service or not! COMCAST IS A JOKE and should be put out of business so it can no longer rip people off. I was stupid enough to give them a chance and now they are ripping me off!!! Is that good business? Prior to my MISTAKE, I had DirectTV and changed back and I get 100% signal with the best quality of picture and sound! At a fraction of the outlandish and mistaken fees by Comcast. Never mind the commercials, Comcast is just looking for anything to get free advertisement!

  25. Larry Wilson says:

    And it also is offensive to cavemen too!!!

  26. a.olivs says:

    i’m a dt costumer and i think they are waisting cash and time. if there’s no one with a bit of imagination just go back to the “referral queen”. some people see them as funny, well dt: let me choose my comedy. tnk god for remote controls… rob lowe pfff should stay low.

    • Stargazer says:

      Well, a.olivs, while you’re choosing your comedy, why not go back to school and learn how to spell while you’re at it?

  27. Bill B. says:

    I hope that I never see another one. They are among the most annoying ads I’ve ever seen and not a one has been remotely funny. They seem to play a lot on some channels I watch a lot, particularly a baseball channel I watch frequently, but I keep the remote handy to turn off the volume. Inept advertising.

  28. Chloe Brooks says:

    Simple minded people who can’t grasp humor complain just about everything and take offense for the most silly things.

  29. I take offense to the stereotypes of his alter egos. We conspiracy theorists don’t give a SHIT about listening devices in our cheese, and we hate our neighbors too much to spy on them….if we have neighbors, which we tend to avoid.

  30. Comcast thinks it has Direct TV by the NAD..s..

  31. C Howatt says:

    I just think the ads are stupid and cringe-worthy — as I have had friends who had satellite TV and they loathed it, I would never consider it, I think the ads are just creepy and stupid — and I too, just turn them off.

  32. G. McHale says:

    When the Rob Lowe commercial comes on I change the channel and I usually do not change it back. I think it is creepy and disgusting.

  33. Trish says:

    Comcast, in their never ending greed for power to control this market, is making a huge deal out of nothing. I have Direct TV and the reason for that is I despise Comcast and will never go back to that company EVER! They are rich enough. I live in the City where they just built their new headquarters. The building is, in my opinion, absolutely ugly and a blight on the City’s skyline. They should have saved their money and put it to good use to a charity. Disgusting.

  34. Dunstan says:

    Here’s the thing: anyone paying for TV at this point in time is throwing away their money. You can find anything you want for free online. Why pay excessive fees to any of these pathetic “providers?”

  35. Coach L. says:

    Unsubstantiated claims by loser Providers, that obviously “Fit-the-Profile” or they wouldn’t be bitching and moaning.

  36. Julienne says:

    OMG…we’re becoming Russia!

  37. Well, this is the whole “Papa Johns, Better Ingredients, Better Pizza” argument again. Pizza Hut protested that Papa Johns made that claim falsely and I remember correctly it was determined that it was up to the consumer to decide which pizza they liked better. If we start holding advertisers from lying and misleading in their ads then ads will become a picture of their product and a request to please buy it and little else. Every insurance company claims to have the lowest rate, etc. Each car is better than its competitors, etc. I think the DirecTv ads have been so outlandish that I think it’s clear that the claims made have to taken with a grain of salt and that having cable doesn’t mean you’re going to be a conspiracy nut with excessive body hair who peaked in high school and I think the average consumer who has any gray cells in their head knew that.

  38. Sean Kennedy says:

    Rob Lowe’s the worst plastic actor in the universe! He has the charm of snake oil salesman in a Carnival!1 His commercials are irritating!!!

  39. Mjkbk says:

    “Don’t be like this me” is “a comparative and unsupported superiority message”? What have those NAS peeps been smoking?

    Will this mean, for example, that Geico will not be allowed to suggest that geckos prefer THEIR insurance product? Because after all, it’s unsupported that geckos can actually TALK.

  40. Larry Lawler says:

    Rob is great in these Ads.about time a commercial was so well done, fantastic and funny.

  41. BobC says:

    I think they’re funny! Love the comb caught in his BACK hair!!

  42. Corey says:

    So I take it Comcast commercials are banned from DirectTV as well? Or is this a dictatorship..

  43. rat17888 says:

    I have had Comcast, FiOS, and DirecTV. In my opinion, Comcast is superior. I hated satellite. I live in Philly, so maybe they’re expected to have better service there. However, these commercials are hilarious and they should keep making them.

  44. J.E. Vizzusi says:

    “I have Direct TV and I get 99% signal with the best quality of picture and sound! So what’s the complaint?

  45. James Heckel says:

    I happen to think that cable is more reliable, especially during downpours. However, I hope this campaign stays on the air. Why? Because it is that rare achievement in the world of advertising: A message that one actually enjoys viewing. A great job by DTV’s agency. As for offending those with “shy bladder syndrome”…really?

    • Trish says:

      Their customer service is “non-existent”. I don’t think they have ever trained anyone to be a customer service rep. It is just awful.

  46. swschrad says:

    having had Comcast, and currently back on DirectTV, I think the ads are accurate enough. Cable can drive you nuts. and by the way, where are Cablecom, TWT, and all the smaller regionals — are they satisfied that this is not hurtful? Comcast was never mentioned by name. they stepped up and took on the mantle as “the evil other guy” of their own accord here. just like… a … stupid cable company.

  47. arujous says:

    Of course everyone knows Comcast are aholes, and their service sucks hind tit. I’m a DISH customer, and have never been happy with DirecTV in my 2 times of weakness, nor do I believe what they say in their ads (since I experienced them firsthand.) I only have Comcast for internet (which also sucks hind tit!) Can’t wait to drop them in November. But, the ads are funny and clever, and they do really only pick on cable. I’m just sorry that Mr. Lowe signed with them.

  48. mikeam1978 says:

    Oh, jeez. This is nothing. Every company advertises their products as superior to a competitor’s. How are these ads suddenly crossing a line. Personally, I’m not even a DirecTV subscriber (I have Dish Network), but I find these commercials hilariously entertaining.

  49. Sean James says:

    Well ,,,,,,,It won For “best Make up” in a “commercial or video” In the 2015 local 706 awards . I know because I was nominated for Weird Als Video “handy” and it beat me :/

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