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Dish's New Ad Campaign Pays Last Respects to TV Commercials

'Commercials Are Out of Our Lives'

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Advertising Age Player

Dish Network is bringing back the "Boston guys" for a new ad campaign starting Monday to promote the new Hopper with Sling DVR.

One commercial in the multi-million dollar national effort shows the guys, characters with heavy Southie accents, paying their last respects to commercials. "Now that we have the Hopper, we can watch commercial-free TV," they said. "Commercials are out of our lives."

Advertising Age Player

That's unlikely to soothe nerves at the four big TV networks suing Dish, charging that the Hopper violates copyright law. But Dish is eager to tell consumers how the Hopper, whose new Sling integration lets viewers watch live or recorded TV on web-connected devices, will make their lives better.

"We have evolved the advertising," said James Moorhead, chief marketing officer at Dish. "When we first started with the Boston guys, it was them shouting out the features of the device. Now it is less about rattling off the features and more about showing exactly how the Hopper improves lives."

Hopper with Sling also lets subscribers move recorded programs to an iPad, where they can then view the content even without an internet connection.

Yet the campaign, which consists of print ads and three 30-second TV spots, makes no mention of Sling. Dish says it continues to focus on the overall Hopper brand, which the company is still trying to build up with consumers.

"We are showing off the superiority of the product -- watching live TV anywhere, 2,000 hours of storage, skipping commercials, DVR playback from multiple devices -- and emphasizing that you can only do these things with the Hopper," Mr. Moorhead said. "Everyone is talking about TV Everywhere, but Dish is the only comprehensive offering that can really make TV available anywhere. With many others it's confined to the home or there's only a small amount of content available remotely."

This is the first campaign under Mr. Moorhead, who succeeded Ira Bahr at Dish in April. Mr. Moorhead is best known for overseeing Old Spice during its "Man Your Man Could Smell Like" brand revival. Prior to joining Dish, Mr. Moorhead held senior marketing roles at Procter & Gamble for over a decade, most recently leading the strategy and marketing of Gillette products. Since arriving at Dish, he has named his former Procter & Gamble colleague Andy Cipra to be VP of brand marketing and hired Martin Lenoir, a direct-to-consumer marketer at New York Life, as VP of direct marketing.

The humorous spots were created by Gerry Graf's agency, Barton F. Graf 9000, which has built a reputation for highly creative and funny advertising.

The broadcast TV networks' battle against the Hopper has led them to refuse to run its ads, Mr. Moorhead said. "We've encountered some of this before, so it's not new, and we've learned to navigate it quite well from a marketing perspective," he said.

Dish has increased its brand awareness up to 70%, the highest in its history, according to Mr. Moorhead. "We've been able to keep up with DirecTV's product awareness based on our approach, even though they outspend us by a wide margin," he said.

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