DIRECTV LINKS WITH CAREY FOR $30 MIL HOLIDAY PUSH: 1ST MAJOR CELEB ENDORSER FEATURED IN TV, PRINT, RADIO

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DirecTV steps up its ad efforts with a $30 million holiday campaign featuring its first major celebrity endorser, Drew Carey.

A flight of TV spots starts Nov. 4 and ends Nov. 21; the ads return Dec. 6 and run through Dec. 19.

The star of ABC's "The Drew Carey Show" also appears in print ads, radio spots and point-of-purchase materials.

A NEW LEVEL

"It's a broad-based endorsement deal . . . [that's] a big departure for us," said Tom Bracken, VP-advertising. "It'll take the brand to a new level."

As part of the drive, the 8 million-subscriber satellite programming service also will give new subscribers a package of 32 premium movie channels free for two months.

In one TV spot done by movie director John Landis, a pizza delivery man is just about to hand Mr. Carey his order but becomes enamored with the programming on Mr. Carey's TV set. Mr. Carey explains that it's not cable but DirecTV.

In another spot, Mr. Carey drags a friend who is watching a boring cable program into a home that has DirecTV.

Campbell-Ewald, Los Angeles, is the agency.

The campaign will be promoted within DirecTV's network of retailers, including Best Buy Co., Circuit City Stores, Montgomery Ward & Co. and Radio Shack.

"Frequently our big retailers will pick up this message and carry it through [their] television and print," Mr. Bracken said.

DirecTV's recent subscriber sales are running 40% ahead of the start of the year, the executive said.

"This is an entertainment message for our movie package, intended to balance our football and sports message," Mr. Bracken added.

DirecTV recently allocated about $15 million to $20 million to promote its "NFL Sunday Ticket" of football games (AA, Aug. 8).

FEDERAL RELIEF

DirecTV is hoping its next big marketing move will come from Washington, where lawmakers are set to decide whether direct satellite providers can retransmit local TV stations in order to compete directly with cable TV operators.

Lack of local station access is one of the key reasons why consumers don't sign up for the service, Mr. Bracken said.

For some time, DirecTV has been conducting an in-store effort to explain how

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