Jan 12

DirecTV: firing laser shots at cable

Every so often, someone steps up and demonstrates one of the more amazing things about advertising: you don’t have to say a lot to say a lot.

While many companies stuff their ads with reasons to choose their products (the “more is more” school of thought), DirecTV goes a simpler route. They take one idea and turn it into something people will watch. And pass around. And talk about.

The above ad is part of DirecTV’s latest effort to woo customers from the cable companies. As far as I can tell, it’s one of three ads in this campaign. Each ad starts with one simple reason why cable companies are bad, then creates an absurd cascade of events that “logically” follow, leading to the ultimate disastrous result — which, of course, you can avoid if you simply upgrade to DirecTV.

This makes each ad about 90% fun and 10% message. But the wise know that this is a perfectly acceptable ratio — as long as the 90% serves to help viewers better remember the 10%.

The truth is, we already know how the cable companies work, and the general feeling is not positive. They’re all lumped together in the public mind. We don’t need a whole lot of additional information. DirecTV’s campaign exists simply to let us know there’s a more-than-viable alternative.

With three commercials, the entire campaign says only three things about DirecTV: it’s cheaper than cable, it won’t put you on hold like the cable companies, and it will give you a more reliable signal. Pretty smart.

That being said, DirecTV has a pretty big hill to climb. I’d be curious to know how successful this effort is.

See the other two ads here and here.

(Kudos to the creative team at Grey Advertising.)

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  • If a satellite connection *was* actually more reliable than cable, then maybe this 10% would be worth it, but as a customer who has both (one at home, one at the office), I’d say the uptime is equivalent. Maybe the customer service is better at DTV, to be honest, I don’t even try with either as my expectations are so low. When it’s out it’s out for a bit, and then it comes back sometime later. I guess the perception that DTV is more reliable than cable is worth trying to comnunicate, because how do you know until you switch (and then we got you already)? It’s an amusing spot however, and doesn’t make me want to stab myself, so props for that.

  • qka

    Alas, the cable lock-in for many of us is that in order to get high speed Internet, cable is the only game in town. And the cable company won’t let you buy Internet without a TV plan. (then comes the push to sign up for their phone service, but that’s a whole other matter.)

  • Too bad that these ads are lies.

    My customer service experience with Time Warner Cable has always been vastly superior to DirecTV.

    The 3 worst customer experiences of my entire life all involved DirecTV, and they were the only company that I ever had to file a complaint against with the BBB.

    DirecTV is all about SALES, SALES, SALES, SALES…. then once they get you as a customer, you’re up sh*t’s creek forever.

    There is no amount of money in the world that would ever make me switch back to DirecTV. Well, maybe a million dollars… I’ll start the negotiations there. ;)

  • @qka, I’ve always been able to buy cable Internet without buying a TV plan. I’ve moved 5 times, and it’s always been the same wherever I move.

  • ken segall

    I’ve never heard particularly good things about DirecTV. My article was purely about the creative work — but as they say, “nothing kills a bad product faster than a good ad.” If DirecTV manages to attract a significant number of new customers, they’d better give them a happy experience, or they’ll have to deal with the backlash.

  • Steve

    I’ve been a DirecTV customer for decades and the only time I’ve lost service was during a severe snow, ice or rain storm…just the physics of space to ground transmission at play here. That’s way better than the performance of the service provided by my cable company from whom I buy internet access. DirecTV’s newest ad campaign is a cut above anything they’ve used before—humor works!

  • Roy

    We had DirecTV at our old house, but when we moved two years ago decided to try AT&T uVerse to get the internet service (we have literally never connected a POTS phone to the wall jack).

    The core of the DVR experience is not making your customer annoyed and in that regard I must say that DirecTV has a huge advantage. I have heard that the uVerse software was written by Microsoft and can believe it. There are many clever touches in the uVerse software, and it is probably more flexible overall than DirecTV, but the overall experience frequently leaves me bashing my head against the wall trying to get something to work as well as it did in DirecTV.

    One simple thing that astounds me is that uVerse does not continually record as DirecTV does; so that if you turn on the tv and find that the station has an interesting program you cannot start from half an hour ago as you can on DirecTV by default.

    There are many other examples that I could recount if I took time to think about it more; but they all boil down to the fact that uVerse software was written with a requirements list and DirecTV software was written by people who wanted to make watching television a more pleasant experience.

    As for price, it’s about the same cost between the two for equivalent packages beyond the basic level. As for reliability, uVerse wins hands down. In north Texas we frequently experience very intense thunderstorms in the spring and summer, and DirecTV was quite regularly out for 30-90 minutes when a strong storm came through the area. I believe that uVerse has had a weather interruption fewer than five times in the two years that we have been here.

    The bottom line for us is that if we could get equivalent internet service from another vendor for a similar cost, we would switch back to DirecTV in a heartbeat even with the weather interruptions.