DirecTV has pulled a popular advertising campaign featuring actor Rob Lowe after cable company Comcast complained that many of the ads’ claims could not be supported by evidence.
The ads feature two “versions” of Lowe – the “cool” DirecTV subscriber Rob Lowe, and the “Super Creepy” cable subscriber Rob Lowe. Various iterations of the ads substitute “Super Creepy” for other derogatory versions of the character, like “Painfully Awkward” Rob Lowe, or “Broken-Down Less Attractive” Rob Lowe.
This week, the NAD agreed with Comcast that many of the claims made in the ads, including that satellite TV offers better picture and sound quality and shorter wait times for customer service, could not be backed up by the satellite company. The agency also took issue with Lowe’s signature line, delivered at the end of each individual ad: “Don’t be like this me. Get rid of cable and upgrade to DirecTV.” According to the Times, the NAD said the line “conveyed a comparative and unsupported superiority message.”
DirecTV has since started a new ad campaign featuring Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Hannah Davis. But the company said it would appeal the NAD’s decision, saying in a statement that they “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.”
The company has reportedly not ruled out working with Lowe on a series of similar spots in the future.
“We’ve talked with Rob about doing something else in the future,” DirecTV senior vice president of marketing Jon Giselman told the Times. “He loves the campaign. He’s completely gotten into the characters.”
Recent events have underlined my belief that for something to be truly original, funny and subversive, there must also be fallout. #Life
— Rob Lowe (@RobLowe) April 8, 2015
According to the report, the campaign was highly effective; DirecTV signed up 149,000 customers in the fourth quarter of 2014 after having lost 28,000 subscribers in its previous quarter.