In a campaign breaking this week, EchoStar Communications' Dish Network seeks to brand itself as the irreverent rebel of TV-service providers, attending to customers with a blunt mantra: TV doesn't have to suck.
The "Better TV for all" campaign is the first work from Publicis Groupe's Publicis in the West since it won the estimated $140 million creative account in January.
The work positions Dish, based in Englewood, Colo., as "the Robin Hood" of the satellite-TV category, "defending America's right to better TV," said Bob Moore, executive creative director at the Seattle shop. The campaign breaks nationwide on Tuesday, with components ranging from 30-second spots and full-page print ads to retail and an interactive microsite.
Though Dish has presented "honest, for the people" themes in mostly offer-centric project work from shops including independents davidandgoliath in Los Angeles and The Romann Group in New York, Moore said Publicis tied all the client's communication threads together with an "extremely aggressive, super smart" and clear message.
While consumers are accustomed to seeing edgier advertising for beer and burgers, it may come as a bit of a surprise in the digital-TV category. The new Dish ads, crafted by a team led by group creative directors Eric Cosper and Simeon Roane, are "very bold, very daring, but also truthful, direct. Very real," said svp and group account director Patrick Reynolds.
In one of four 30-second TV spots, two couples are having dinner when the candles begin to flicker. "What's that breeze?" asks the female guest. "That's our TV," says the male host, matter of factly. "It sucks." Household items from cloth napkins to the family cat are then sucked toward the screen, as the guests explain that Dish offers better value, service and features—and "doesn't suck."
Two print ads depict televisions in full-on sucking mode. In one, breaking in USA Today, a young man is being pulled in as his little dog watches; text reads, "The first step toward better TV is admitting your TV sucks."
With increased competition from cable and satellite providers, "we had to tell [our message] in a very big way, to shock people out of their inertia," Reynolds said.
The best way to do that was with honesty and humor, said agency chairman and CEO Randy Browning. "It's very subtle [work]," he added, "even though we say 'sucks' a lot."
Additional campaign components include radio, Internet, outdoor, direct response TV and mail, in-store materials and branded kiosks at Dish partner stores including Sears and RadioShack. Dish-installer vans will sport whimsical bumper messages like, "My other van is another van that delivers better TV."
To have "a little more fun with the brand," Reynolds said, Publicis has also created a microsite to complement the main Web site (which the agency also redesigned). Tentatively called SuckFreeTV.com, it will be "a palace to all things that suck," Reynolds said, featuring a game in which players can click on household items and watch them fly into a non-Dish television. "Toupee, gone. Sucked into the vortex," he laughed.
Publicis will also assist with EchoStar's strategic media planning. Media duties, which were not part of the review, remain split between Interpublic Group's Cash Plus Media Services (broadcast buying) and Novus Print Media, both in Minneapolis (print buying).
Publicis won the creative business in January, beating contenders including TBWA\ Chiat\Day's Tequila unit in New York, Campbell Mithun in Minneapolis and DiNoto in New York.