‘Petite Randy Moss’ Is Cable’s Latest Victim in DirecTV’s New Height-Mocking Ad

Funny, or just mean?

Grey New York plays the height card in a new ad touting DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket.

The commercial stars Randy Moss, a future NFL Hall of Famer mulling a comeback. In the spot, tall Randy has SundayTicket, so he can watch his favorite teams every Sunday no matter where he happens to be. Clearly, this dude rocks. Short Randy, meanwhile, has cable, which doesn't carry the games of his hometown team, so his life, apparently, is not so great.

Reviewers at USA Today and SB Nation find it funny. A number of YouTube commenters, never short on opinions, are predictably weighing in with outrage.

"Here we go again!" says 5f4ohno. "Tall=Positive human being, Short=negative subhuman. Try doing this with any group in the USA and you get crucified. But short people are put on this planet to get shit on. Hello DirecTV! Some of us are getting tired of this bigoted crap known as heightism."

Or, in the more pointed words of Greg: "Welp, guess I'm not good enough for DirecTV because I'm a short man. Will be calling up to terminate my subscription tomorrow. This is like making an ad where a 'Black Rob Gronkowski' is seen as inferior, learn how to advertise without offending your customers if you want money."

LightAbyssion cuts really deep: "Next time DirecTV makes a commercial, use a fat or flat woman to represent inferiority. Don't just mock what's politically correct to insult. Go all out. Otherwise, your company is full of hypocritical cowards."

Full disclosure: I'm 5'8" in three-inch lifts. OK, 5'5". And while the commercial doesn't bother me personally, and I'd dismiss a fair share of its detractors as trolls, I'm surprised that a major corporation would even bother to go to the trouble of producing it in 2015. (In 2010, maybe. In 2005, sure.)

Then again, stirring up a little controversy and the extra press attention may well be the objective. At this point, it's a call from a well-thumbed playbook. Offend some folks, but not too much. ("Petite Randy" is just a little bit controversial, after all).

Indeed, for its part, DirecTV seems pleased. "Randy Moss was one of the tallest receivers to play the game, which of course is the joke," the brand tells AdFreak in a statement. "Besides, these ads obviously take place in an alternative reality, something our viewers understand. The feedback we're getting is the vast majority enjoy them."

In earlier Sunday Ticket commercials, Eli Manning and Tony Romo face off against "lame versions" of themselves, but the approach was too blatantly cartoonish for anyone—save bad comedians and die-hard arts and crafts fanatics—to take offense. And the whole lesser-men-have-cable concept is born of DirecTV's run of ads starring Rob Lowe as ugly, creepy and awkward, which fired up plenty of viewers, too.

Moving forward, it would probably be wise for advertisers and agencies creating humorous scenarios to bear in mind that derogatory depictions of most aspects of human physicality—height, weight, ideals of "beauty"—are out of bounds (Didn't 1977 teach us anything?). Marketers that don't play by the rules risk being swiftly penalized in the arena of popular opinion, even if they win the game.

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