×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

DirecTV Told to Pull Rob Lowe Ads After Comcast Complaint

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:

More Biz

  • Jussie Smollett Good Morning America

    Jussie Smollett Angrily Denies Complicity in Attack

    Attorneys for “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett issued a statement Saturday denying that he orchestrated his Jan. 29 assault, and saying he is “angered” and “devastated” by recent developments in the case. Chicago police want to interview Smollett, after learning new evidence from two Nigerian brothers who were released on Friday night. Local media outlets have [...]

  • Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith

    Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith Dies at 78

    Walt Disney Archives founder Dave Smith, the historian who spent 40 years cataloging and preserving the company’s legacy of entertainment and innovation, died Friday in Burbank, Calif. He was 78. Smith served as Disney’s chief archivist from 1970 to 2010. He was named a Disney Legend in 2007 and served as a consultant to the [...]

  • Colin Kaepernick Kneel

    Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid Reach Settlement With NFL

    Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid, two football players who alleged the National Football League colluded to oust them from the game after they started kneeling in protest of racial inequality during the playing of the national anthem, have reached a settlement in the matter, according to a statement from the sports organization and lawyers representing [...]

  • R. Kelly

    R. Kelly Could Be in ‘Big Trouble’ Over Alleged New Sex Tape, Attorney Says

    Strong allegations of sexual misconduct have followed R. Kelly for 25 years, but the singer has always managed to slip free. Yet reports that a videotape of him sexually assaulting an underage girl, combined with the outcry surrounding the Lifetime documentary “Surviving R. Kelly,” means that public sentiment, at the very least, is definitely not [...]

  • Christian Bale as Dick Cheney in

    New Media Residuals and Feature Films Contribute to Spike in Writers' Pay

    The outlook for members of the Writers Guild of America has brightened — even amid pervasive uncertainty in the entertainment industry. According to the most recent report to WGA West members, earnings surged 2.8% to $1.41 billion in 2017, thanks mostly to gains in feature films and new-media residuals. Total covered earnings for WGA West [...]

  • Joe Dante Gremlins

    Hollywood Execs Seek Licensing Deals at the New York Toy Fair

    On Feb. 16 more than 30,000 studio executives, buyers and toy company reps will gather in Manhattan for the annual Toy Fair New York, all vying for market share and trying to snag the latest hot trend in a fast-changing industry. Those working the film side of the business will focus much of their attention [...]

  • Lady Gaga Bradley Cooper A Star

    Universal Music Group Fuels 11.3% Rise in Vivendi's 2018 Revenues

    Vivendi’s revenues were up 11.3% to €13.93 billion ($15.7 billion) in 2018, powered by Universal Music Group, which delivered such hits as the “A Star Is Born” soundtrack and Drake’s new album. UMG’s revenues climbed by 10% to €6 billion ($6.8 billion) compared to 2017. On top of the “A Star Is Born” soundtrack, the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content