Complaints from Comcast have led an industry trade group to recommend DirecTV pull a bizarre series of commercials featuring actor Rob Lowe.
The ads — which featured alter-egos of the actor who had cable while a smooth-talking, sharply dressed Lowe urged people to switch to satellite — have been discontinued. DirecTV says it did not pull them. Rather, they had already planned to start a new campaign during the second quarter.
DirecTV said in a statement to AdAge that the Lowe ads were scheduled to be replaced with spots showing Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition cover model Hannah Davis and a talking, singing horse. The new commercials began airing during the Final Four.
“The Rob Lowe spots were always scheduled to end at the end of Q1,” said the satellite provider, adding “We definitely 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.”
The National Advertising Division (NAD), which is affiliated with the Council of Better Business Bureaus, argued late Wednesday that DirecTV pull the ads because the following claims made by Lowe were mostly incorrect:
- With DirecTV you get 99% signal reliability
- With DirecTV you get 99.9% signal reliability
- With DirecTV you get 1080p picture quality and Dolby 5.1. The industry’s best picture quality and sound
- Up to 1080p picture quality
- DirecTV is #1 in customer satisfaction over all cable TV providers
- DirecTV is ranked higher than cable for over 10 years
- DirecTV is the undisputed leader in sports which means you can watch all the games you want
- When it comes to sports, with DirecTV, you can have them all
“The National Advertising Division has recommended that DirecTV, LLC, discontinue certain advertising claims made in a series of television commercials that feature actor Rob Lowe and one of several odd or awkward alter-ego characters,” the group said in a statement.
The trade group agreed only with DirecTV on claims based on signal reliability and 1080p picture quality. NAD’s ruling has no legal standing, but the satellite provider has vowed to repeal.
DirecTV also argued: “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.”
On the air since the Super Bowl, personas including “peaked in high school,” “bad decision making,” and “creepy” Rob Lowe suffered through cable service in between scenes with Lowe espousing the virtues of satellite television.
The campaign previously made headlines when a group called the International Paruresis Association (IPA) railed against “scrawny arms” Rob Lowe being unable to pee in pubic. Paruresis is also known as “shy bladder” and affects around 200 million people around the world, IPA claims.
“In this particular case the portrayal is making it look ridiculous, that this guy is a loser for having a problem,” group CEO Steve Soifer told the Associated Press. “What if he didn’t have a leg or an arm?” he continued. “Are you going to make fun of them?”
Lowe stood by the ads in a comment posted to Twitter.
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