“Scooby Doo”

Bound to a chair, a man is tormented by a bunch of teenagers and their dog. Who’ll have your sympathies? DirecTV is betting you’ll side with the kids and dog as you watch this new spot via Deutsch/LA. And it’s probably right, even if parents in the viewing audience (regularly tormented by their own kids) might be inclined at first to side with the man in the chair.

In this case, the kids and dog are familiar animated characters from Scooby-Doo, a TV cartoon that has aired in various permutations for nearly 40 years. And when one of the kids literally unmasks the man, he turns out to be “the cable guy,” i.e., a person consumers are conditioned to dislike, given their exasperating experience with cable companies.

Having revealed the man’s true identity, one of the kids explains the situation: “Well, now that DirecTV has more of the best channels in HD, no wonder the cable guy tried to stop everyone from switching to DirecTV.” Embracing his assigned role as bad guy, the man snarls, “And I could of got away with it if it wasn’t for you meddling kids and your dog.” Note that his use of the grammatically incorrect “if it wasn’t,” rather than “if it weren’t,” adds to his aura of uncouth villainy. A voiceover then urges viewers to “Hook up your new flat-screen to over 85 of the best HD channels,” and concludes with an 800-phone number for DirecTV.

Viewers who grew up as fans of Scooby-Doo will appreciate the dose of nostalgia DirecTV has provided. What about those whose pop-culture literacy doesn’t include the Scooby oeuvre? They’ll be so grateful to hear the narrator’s normal adult voice, after the grating cartoony voices, that they may take its sales pitch to heart as well.–Mark Dolliver