DirecTV Advised to Discontinue Rob Lowe "Don't Be Like This Me" Ads

David Raccu

After objection from Comcast, an advertising self-regulatory unit finds that the spots convey an unsupported superiority message.

The National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau has flagged a series of DirecTV advertisements featuring two versions of Rob Lowe: one looking like his cool, composed familiar self — the other creepy, painfully awkward and far less attractive. On Tuesday, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory body recommended that the satellite television giant discontinue certain superiority claims in those commercials.

Comcast made the initial challenge to the relentless DirecTV commercial spots in which Lowe pitches satellite television while his lesser alter egos are stuck with cable. The NAD considered whether the commercials implied DirecTV had superior signal reliability, picture quality, sound performance, more sports programming and more prompt installation and service than cable companies. The investigation concluded in a noted lack of supporting evidence for such claims.

The advertisements are intended to be funny, so the NAD is careful to not appear humorless. 

In the decision, the NAD remarks that although “humor can be an effective and creative way for advertisers to highlight the differences between their products and their competitor’s, humor and hyperbole do not relieve an advertiser of the obligation to support messages that their advertisements might reasonably convey – especially if the advertising disparages a competitor’s product.”

And so, the NAD has made a series of recommendations.

For example, in regard to one of the spots, “Scrawny Arms Rob Lowe,” the NAD claims it communicated an implied but unsupported message that DirecTV’s sports programming is superior to cable’s sports programming. The NAD also advised DirecTV to discontinue or modify a price claim in this spot.

In a statement, DirecTV said it would appeal and "continues to believe that the various Rob Lowe advertisements are so outlandish and exaggerated that no reasonable consumer would believe that the statements being made by the alter-ego characters are comparative or need to be substantiated.”