DirectTV Pulls Rob Lowe Ad Campaign After Complaints of False Claims

Dishonesty in advertising? Never!

DirectTV has pulled its comedic ad campaign starring 80’s heartthrob and Parks and Recreation star Rob Lowe after The National Advertising Division (NAD) received complaints that claims made in the ads weren’t exactly truthful.

Their new ads, featuring Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue model Hannah Davis and a talking horse, are less likely to inspire such complaints:

Who lodged these complaints, you might ask? None other than one of the satellite company’s major competitors: Comcast.

The complaints specifically named the following claims, which were delivered by Lowe in the commercials, as unsubstantiated:

  • “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”
  • 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.”

After an investigation, the NAD concluded that, while DirecTV’s assertions about signal reliability and 1080p picture quality were tenable, its statements about customer satisfaction, quality, and ranking were not.

“Humor can be an effective and creative way for advertisers to highlight the differences between their products and their competitor’s,” the NAD said, but “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.”

DirectTV, meanwhile, maintains 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.”

As such, the company will appeal the NAD’s ruling, but it does not intend to ressurrect the campaign even if an appeal were to be successful.

“We try to retire campaigns at their peak — before they jump the shark,” Jon Gieselman, DirecTV’s senior vice president of marketing, told the Los Angeles Times.

We suppose if being successfully taken down by a competitor’s well-placed complaint is reaching its “peak,” then yes, it’s probably time to “retire” the campaign. Perhaps the company’s new, even more bizarre ads will hang around a little longer.