DirecTV Pulls Rob Lowe TV Ads After Comcast Challenges Unproven Claims

Viewers who enjoy those amusing DirecTV commercials with Rob Lowe and his goofy alter egos — such as “painfully awkward Rob Lowe” and “super creepy Rob Lowe” — are in for a letdown.
It looks like DirecTV has complied with a recommendation to discontinue the Rob Lowe ads from the National Advertising Division, an investigative panel that reviews complaints and is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
Following a complaint from Comcast, the target of the DirecTV ads, the NAD this week recommended that DirecTV shut down its funny ad campaign because the satellite TV company couldn’t substantiate some of the claims made in the commercials, or needed to further clarify some of them.

NAD noted in its decision 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 substantiate claims when going after a competitor’s product.
According to Variety, DirecTV has stopped airing the Lowe ads because the company had moved on to another ad campaign.
In a statement, DirecTV said 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.”
Here are the DirecTV claims that was challenged by Comcast via the NAD:

  • “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”
  • Rob Lowe Alter-Ego: “Don’t be like this me. Get rid of cable and upgrade to DirecTV”
  • “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 to”
  • “When it comes to sports, with DirecTV, you can have them all.”

The NAD concluded that DirecTV’s claims about signal reliability and 1080p picture quality were substantiated by DirecTV’s own testing. But its claims about customer satisfaction, overall quality and its ranking were not.
The panel also “recommended that the advertiser modify the claim to clearly and conspicuously disclose the limited programming on which resolutions of 1080p is currently available.”
Last month, DirecTV was charged by the Federal Trade Commission with deceptively advertising a one-year programming package that actually requires a two-year contract with a heftier price in its second year.

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