Steve Buscemi and Henry Winkler star as anxious pigeons in new campaign for DirecTV

The spots remind viewers that DirecTV can be enjoyed without a satellite dish—many pigeons’ perch of choice

Published On
Feb 19, 2024
Two pigeons standing on a rooftop.

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DirecTV wants Americans to know that they no longer need a satellite dish to access its services, and to deliver that reminder, the company selected messengers who are the least likely to benefit from the dishes’ disappearance: a pair of pigeons.

Aptly titled “For The Birds,” the new multichannel campaign stars two urban avian spokesmen, New Yorkers Bobby and Frank—voiced by award-winning actors Steve Buscemi and Henry Winkler, respectively—who appear in multiple spots to both admire the quality of DirecTV’s satellite-less offerings and lament the loss of their favorite places to rest, shelter and “do [their] business.”

Set on rooftops and windowsills, the work hammers home the company’s “no satellite required” message, with sarcastic Bobby and optimistic Frank’s back-and-forth conveying DirecTV’s talking points in lighthearted ways. In one ad, the duo praise DirecTV’s baseball package, despite Frank’s observation that the league would “rather name a team after socks” than after pigeons; in another, Frank yearns for the old satellites, only to build himself a dish—and a “girlfriend”—out of junk.

The campaign was developed by TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles with production work by Biscuit, which ranked No. 4 on Ad Age’s Production Company A-List last year.

See a few of the campaign’s spots—“The Good Stuff,” “Girlfriend” and “Socks”—below:










“This new campaign allows the ease of use of DirecTV to take center stage, through the humor and plight of Bobby and Frank, who are among the first to notice the change and then take a clever approach to explaining it to consumers,” said Vince Torres, the company’s chief marketing officer.

The focus of the work is the relatively new Gemini and Gemini Air streaming devices that DirecTV launched in 2023, which essentially create a central aggregated hub of sports broadcasts, third-party streaming services and more, eliminating the need to switch between TV inputs. They’re two of the company’s satellite-free options, instead utilizing a high-speed internet connection.

“Showing the absence of something is tricky,” Jason Karley, executive creative director at TBWA\Chiat\Day LA, said of the campaign’s development. “So the team thought about who would miss satellite dishes the most. Who spends enough time on roofs and ledges to notice?”

The ads’ urban setting provided the perfect environment to cast “two familiar New York voices” for the roles of Bobby and Frank, added Ryan Buckley, creative director at TBWA\Chiat\Day LA. (Both Buscemi and Winkler are native-born New Yorkers.)

The idea for “For The Birds” was spurred, in part, by corporate research that suggests as much as three-quarters of U.S customers still don’t know that DirecTV can be accessed without a satellite dish—an option the company has offered in some form since at least 2016.

Launching with the hero spot “The Good Stuff,” the campaign is set to run nationally on linear TV, radio and digital and social media, with some of its themed commercials running during relevant tentpole broadcasts. For example, the sports-centric “Socks” commercial is due to air during a slate of NBA and NHL games on ABC, ESPN and Turner.

Additional “experiential elements” for this campaign will be announced in the coming weeks, according to the company.

“For The Birds” is hardly the first time DirecTV has cast Hollywood talent in its ads. In 2023, Brian Cox, best known for playing family patriarch Logan Roy on HBO’s “Succession,” appeared in a series of spots critiquing the performances of competing streaming services and cable providers; later that year, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce narrated an audiobook to fight the “Sunday scaries.” Both of those campaigns were also handled by TBWA\Chiat\Day LA.