The Advertising Wars: DirecTV and Viacom


DirecTV Brings a Spoon to a Knife Fight

So DirecTV posted a video on its website featuring an earnest Mike White explaining reasonably to customers that Viacom was asking for too much and that it would be to the consumer's direct financial benefit to see DirecTV get a better deal in the negotiations between the two companies. This last assertion has the added benefit of being the unvarnished truth, despite the fact that White expresses it in a self-serving way (does DirecTV really have to raise your monthly bill? Couldn't a company that made $27.2 billion last year alone absorb some of the cost itself?). He makes the company's case clearly and cogently and with a minimum of snark.


That's the first mistake.


DirecTV's second mistake is not posting the thing on YouTube or Vimeo, where it could be viewed and reposted by anybody who wanted to watch it. Instead, Viacom pulled the video off the DirecTV site, added a bitchy overlay in the style of its own VH1's Pop-Up Video rebutting White's argument point by point, and posted it on YouTube. So the first exposure most people will have to a potentially convincing argument is Viacom blowing a big raspberry in its face.


Hey, Viacom, How Bad Is DirecTV?

Here's the opening gambit in Viacom's print/display ad campaign: an unamused Snooki, neon backgrounds behind the text and an easily changeable headline. The ads have been popping up all over the Web, but a source says that they can go straight into newspapers at a moment's notice.


‘In an Election Year, Fake News Is Crucial’

And again, never a good idea to enter a war of public perception with a network devoted to writing comedy. This is certainly less devestating than the pop-up takedown of the DirecTV video, but it's still pretty effective. It juuuust about acknowledges that it, too, is a political ad, though it doesn't quite get there (and probably should). It will be interesting to see what, if anything, the ad-loving Stephen Colbert has to say about this bit (and a couple of the others coming up) on his show this evening. 


Won’t Someone Please Think of the Children?

SpongeBob SquarePants has been scared trouserless by this latest development, and he's asking you, concerned parent, to take pity on your children with reference to the terrible injustice visited upon him by the scoundrels at DirecTV.


For what it's worth, the attention-loving Parents Television Council is firmly on the side of DirecTV. “The contract negotiation between DirecTV and Viacom is the latest startling example of failure in the marketplace through forced product bundling. DirecTV offered to craft an á la carte business model that would empower consumers to vote with their wallets, but Viacom turned them down,” said PTC president Tim Winter. "During these hard economic times, consumers don’t need the additional cost of cable channels that they do not watch and may even find offensive."


And who knows more about finding television offensive than those who do it professionally?


Too Clever by Half

Oh, Viacom. This is perhaps a little too clever for your own good. People who are smart enough to register this ad as a parody of this ad campaign might not be inclined to see things your way, and people who aren't smart enough might call and subscribe to DirecTV.


Put another way: when you make a really good parody of your opponents' ads, you may accidentally fool some people. When you accidentally fool some people, you lure them to the service you're trying to make fun of. When you lure them to the service you're trying to make fun of, you create more business for your enemies. And when you create more business for your adversaries, nobody gets to watch SpongeBob SquarePants.


Let me watch SpongeBob SquarePants, Viacom.


DirecTV Hates Your Freedom to Pay More!

Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart are here to fight for their employer, presumably. It's a dicey proposition, co-opting the images of two famous political comedians to serve in your battle over cable bill increases. But they're certainly powerful spokespeople, provided neither of them are serving up a nuanced take on the discussion in which both sides appear to have some good points. Which they're not doing here, for once, so more power to them!


Your Champions, Ladies and Gentlemen

...and here's the talent that Viacom was able to get on short notice, speaking directly for the company: titular protagonist of Mob Wives spinoff Big Ang, seizing the moral high ground and telling you exactly what you need to do to end this charade. She's not the only Mob Wife to get on board, either.


Why Do You Hate Dora the Explorer?

Putting the Dora in aDorable, Nick enlists its cartoon mascots (and some of its live-action folks, as well), to plead for assistance. That's dirty pool. Where should I send the money?


And the Democratic Response in this hyperlink here, which you can see a sampling of below. A breakdown of DirecTV's stake in the argument, point by text-heavy point. Good luck, guys.

We hear the pair should reach a deal soon.

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