Scrawny-Arms Rob Lowe Isn't Going Anywhere, According to DirecTV

Advertiser Responds to Ruling by the National Advertising Division

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Will we be saying goodbye to the Scrawny Arms, Painfully Awkward and Far Less Attractive versions of Rob Lowe? Apparently not, according to DirecTV. The fate of the popular spokescharacters seemed uncertain yesterday when the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau issued a recommendation that DirecTV discontinue, or at least modify ads in the campaign featuring the celebrity and his alter-egos, on the basis of unsupported claims they make about the company's service.

But the advertiser says the campaign isn't going anywhere and may continue. The company will be appealing the recommendation and provided a statement to Ad Age saying it has "not pulled the campaign. The Rob Lowe spots were always scheduled to end at the end of Q1, we always planned to launch our new campaign with Hannah Davis in the Final Four. Even though we have a direct competitor trying to restrict our advertising, we definitely 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."

The ads, created by Grey, New York, have been a worthy comedic follow-up to the brand's award-winning "Cable Effects" campaign, but have apparently ticked off competitor Comcast, who filed the complaint leading to the NAD's recommendations, which are not legally binding.

The following are the claims made by the ads that Comcast took issue with:

  • "With DirecTV you get 99.9% signal reliability"
  • "With DirecTV you get 1080p picture quality and Dolby 5.1. The industry's best picture quality and sound."
  • "Up to 1080p picture quality"
  • Rob Lowe Alter-Ego: "Don't be like this me. Get rid of cable and upgrade to DirecTV"
  • "DirecTV is #1 in customer satisfaction over all cable TV providers"
  • "DirecTV is ranked higher than cable for over 10 years."
  • "DirecTV is the undisputed leader in sports which means you can watch all the games you want to"
  • "When it comes to sports, with DirecTV, you can have them all."

The NAD ruled in favor of Comcast on all of the above with the exception of DirecTV's 99.9% signal reliability and its "up to 1080p" picture quality, but did recommend the latter should be clarified to note it applies only to limited programming.

The advertiser debuted new ads starring Ms. Davis and fellow super models earlier this year in a Sports Illustrated spread showing their arguably less attractive doppelgangers: Ms. Davis the cat lady, Chrissy Teigen the mom jeans-wearer and Nina Agdal as a lunch lady.

DirecTV would not comment as to whether future campaigns, featuring Mr. Lowe or not, would continue to make the claims in question, as the ruling is still under appeal, a company spokesperson said.

This weekend the advertiser debuted new spots featuring Ms. Davis and a talking horse, including one (below) that makes some of the same customer service claims the NAD took issue with in the Rob Lowe ad.

Grey Global CCO Tor Myhren declined to comment.

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