Comcast wants DirecTV to stop running its cable-bashing ads with actor Rob Lowe, and now it has some support from the Better Business Bureau. In a decision issued Tuesday, the bureau's national advertising division ruled that DirecTV should add more substance to its claims and remove Lowe's "Don't be like this me" dig.
DirecTV's ad campaign launched in September. It stars Lowe and various alter egos with strange behaviors and appearances, from "Super Creepy" Lowe to "Crazy Hairy" Lowe. The alter egos all subscribe to cable, while suave Rob Lowe has DirecTV.
Comcast's objections were not just about DirecTV's digs or the ads' humor, but also the accuracy of claims that DirecTV makes in its commercials. For example, Comcast challenged the claim in the "Creepy Rob Lowe" ad that DirecTV has “99 percent signal reliability,” and in the "Far Less Attractive Rob Lowe" commercial that DirecTV offers the industry’s best picture and sound quality.
In its ruling, the bureau's national advertising division said that advertisers are obligated to support the messages their commercials convey. While noting that some of DirecTV's claims could be substantiated, it nevertheless recommended that DirecTV drop its claims on signal reliability and shorter customer-service wait times, and that the ads no longer end with the phrase “Don’t be like this me."
Decisions made by the bureau's national advertising division are recommendations and not legally binding. However, noncompliance could be referred to the government.
DirecTV said it would appeal. The company defended its commercials, saying that the campaign was intended to be exaggerated and believed that “no reasonable consumer” would view the statements as comparative.
Conveniently, the Lowe ad campaign was already scheduled to end last week. The company launched a new series starring Sports Illustrated model Hannah Davis during the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four, said Jon Gieselman, DirecTV senior vice president of marketing and advertising.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean we've seen the end of creepy Rob Lowe.
“We always reserve the right to bring back the Rob Lowe campaign, either in its current form or with new spots; it has been extremely successful for the brand,” Gieselman said in a statement.