DirecTV Told to Yank Ads Featuring Rob Lowe After Comcast Complaint

By Tony Maglio

(Updated with comment from DirecTV on April 7 at 7.40 p.m. PT)

Don’t be like DirecTV, the Better Business Bureau’s National Advertising Division (NAD) says.

The watchdog group has recommended that DirecTV discontinue its popular Rob Lowe ads, which feature the handsome actor taking on what the commercial group called “one of several odd or awkward alter-ego characters.” The ads that always end with Lowe’s spoken tagline, “Don’t be like this me — Get rid of cable and upgrade to DirecTV,” may not be long for your small screen, thanks to a complaint filed by cable provider Comcast Corporation.

The NAD found that several of the ad campaign’s claims could not be substantiated, or were even flat-out unfair.

“While 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,” the NAD said on Tuesday.

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The NAD didn’t like the signal reliability claims versus cable that are made in the “Creepy Rob Lowe” commercial, the shorter comparative customer service wait time suggested in the “Painfully Awkward Rob Lowe” spot, and the better picture and sound quality implications drawn in the “Far Less Attractive Rob Lowe” ad.

The group concluded: “Given the absence in the record of supporting evidence, NAD recommended the advertiser discontinue the claims.”

However, “the Rob Lowe campaign was always scheduled to end at the end of Q1,” Jon Gieselman, SVP, Marketing at DirecTV said in a statement to TheWrap. “We wanted to launch our new campaign with Hannah Davis in the Final Four [NCAA basketball championship]. 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.”

In its complaint, NAD also felt that the “Scrawny Arms Rob Lowe” commercial conveyed an unsupported message that DirecTV’s sports programming was better than cable’s. Other issues included the “superiority message” of Lowe’s aforementioned closing phrase, as well as DirecTV’s “rated No. 1 claim” and another that states it has been “ranked higher than cable for over 10 years.”

Finally, the NAD recommended that the satellite provider “either discontinue the price claim featured in the ‘Scrawny Arms Rob Lowe‘ commercial or modify it to reflect the price of a package that included the sports programming featured in the commercial.”

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In its prior response, DirecTV stated that it “continues to believe 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.”

Further, the company said, DirecTV disagrees with NAD’s findings with respect to its ranking claims, picture quality claims and sports programming claims.

DirecTV plans to appeal, the satellite provider promised.

Watch an example of the Lowe DirecTV spots in question:

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