New DirecTV Ads Dish It Out

After sitting back for six months or so as rival Dish Network ran attack ads, DirecTV last week fired back with a new campaign featuring Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek that resurrects the game show To Tell the Truth.

The initial ad in the campaign, created by Deutsch, shows a representative from DirecTV facing off against a contestant from Dish and another generically tagged as “cable.” Trebek, who once hosted the show, asks which of the three offers the best value. The cable rep said, “We offer the best value in entertainment,” which gets a skeptical response from the panel. The Dish rep, meanwhile, says that “we offer the same TV as DirecTV for less,” which prompts the DirecTV rep to question whether “the same” means including AMC, Animal Planet, Bravo and FX. The panel votes with DirecTV.

Until now, DirecTV’s ads have promoted its picture quality and used a creative motif in which actors like David Spade and Kathy Bates re-enact famous scenes from their movies to break the fourth wall and make a direct plea to viewers. But Paul Guyardo, chief sales and marketing officer for DirecTV, said it was time to change course. “DirecTV historically takes the high ground,” he said. “But we felt we’d gotten to a point where there was so much misleading advertising in the marketplace that we had to set the record straight.”

DirecTV isn’t just pursuing the battle in TV ads; the company sued Dish last month over its “Why pay more?” ad campaign, which claimed it offers the “same programming” as DirecTV. Bryan Kraft, senior analyst at Cross Research in Livingston, N.J., said those ads had bitten in to DirecTV’s market share. “That’s the big reason they’re doing it,” said Kraft. “They let those ads stay out there for a while to see what impact they’d have, and they did have one.”

Todd Wasserman is a freelance writer who was formerly the business editor of Mashable and the editor-in-chief of Adweek’s Brandweek.