News

DirecTV’s Latest Ad, Riding Its NFL Rivals, Draws Penalty Flag

9/13/2010 3:50 AM Eastern

DirecTV’s latest series
of TV ads for its out-of-market
National Football League football
package, “NFL Sunday Ticket,”
has centered, rather amusingly,
on displaced fans being able to
watch their team in their rivals’
home markets and on multiple
devices.

To wit, creative in the current
campaign, carrying an estimated
media budget of some $100 million,
has played off of the feuds
between the New England Patriots
and Miami Dolphins; New York
Giants and Dallas Cowboys; and
those same ’Boys and the Washington
Redskins, among others.

The latest entry, at least to the eyes
and ears of a couple of contributors
to The Wire, harkens to the ongoing
contretemps between the top satellite-
TV provider and cable.

In “Cake,” a husband and wife sit
forlornly in an empty home, the missus
intoning “Sunday football’s a tradition
in our house” as she holds a
cake shaped like a football field,
flanked by a table full of untouched
food. “So we got RedZone from the
cable company and we found out it’s
just plays inside the 20.”

The husband, sporting a Peyton
Manning jersey and perched on
the stairs holding a snack bowl,
laments: “It’s not whole games;
it’s highlights.”

The wife continues: “Of course,
Nancy got DirecTV and now, well
…” The spot cuts to a neighbor’s
house, where folks are partying,
led by a fist-pumping middle-ager
in a Manning uniform. Convincing
herself “It’s OK, it’s OK,” the
wife snaps off and bites one of the
goal posts, before stuffing her face
with a handful of football cake.

From there, cut to an image
of Jacksonville Jaguars running
back Maurice Jones-Drew plunging
into the end zone versus the
Buffalo Bills, with a voiceover
from Cris Collinsworth, concluding
in part: “Only DirecTV has every
minute of every game …”

For The Wire, this spot should be
penalized, or applauded, for a couple
of reasons. Once again, it underscores
the rivalry between DirecTV
and cable, which has never been
able to tackle Sunday Ticket. From
this perch, the hardly collegial
“Cake” takes a shot at cable, telco
video providers and the league itself,
the takeaway being that the
Ticket’s alternative, NFL Network’s
NFL RedZone scoring and highlights
channel, is inferior and unsatisfying.
(It should be pointed out
that the RedZone feature in Sunday
Ticket preceded the kickoff of
the NFL’s entry last season.)

That Collinsworth — the analyst
for NBC’s Sunday Night Football,
which, unlike CBS and Fox, doesn’t
compete with Sunday Ticket for
fans’ attention and dollars on Sunday
afternoon (not to mention an
NFL Network alumnus) — provides
the voice for this and the rest of the
current batch of DirecTV spots constitutes
the foul of piling on.

At least that’s The Wire’s opinion.
There’s no telling what NFL
Network, DirecTV and NBC think
as they declined to comment or
failed to respond to those curious
about “Cake.”

Dish’s Charlie Ergen:
He’s Just a Guy Who
Wants to Watch TV

Dish Network’s new ads feature CEO Charlie
Ergen
as a spokesman, clad in a black button-
down shirt with the DBS operator’s logo,
to make him look like a working-class Joe.

The ads — aimed at reversing recent Dish
subscriber losses — have the tagline “Let’s
Watch TV” and a cute little jingle with a Jack
Johnson
-style guitar and handclaps .

In the latest ad, he asks the viewer:
“Have you ever wondered why you have
to pay for channels you don’t watch? Like
paying for children’s channels, and you
don’t have any kids. Or shopping channels
— and you’re a guy!”

Quelle horreur.

A couple of problems with that, though:
Dish doesn’t actually off er packages that
exclude kids’ programming or shopping
channels. Furthermore, QVC, HSN and
ShopNBC don’t even charge carriage fees
— in fact, they typically give a cut of their
sales to the distributors — so it’s not like
eliminating them would lower your overall
monthly bill.

According to Dish, the examples Ergen
provides in the ad are merely to illustrate
the issue of choice as part of the satellite
operator’s claim that it offers more options
on packages than competitors. Ergen
does note in the spot that “no one in the
business is allowed to give you each
channel individually.”

Meanwhile, Ergen’s claim that
Dish is “ranked No. 1 among cable
and satellite companies for customer
satisfaction” — based on the
2010 American Customer Satisfaction
Index survey — conveniently
leaves out AT&T and Verizon Communications,
both of which scored
higher.
The new ad began airing Aug. 23,
and follows spots with Ergen chatting
about Dish’s customer service and
how he started the company. (“That’s
me 30 years ago delivering my first
satellite dish. That’s kind of an embarrassing
picture!”)

GAC Helps DirecTV
Keep Beat Going
At Summer Fests

Ad campaigns aside, one way DirecTV pursues
subscriber leads is sponsored events
with programmers, including Scrippsowned
Great American Country.

The satellite-TV leader sponsored GAC’s
Fairs and Festivals Tour this past summer,
obtaining customer leads at a half-dozen
events visited by the GAC bus. The most
recent was Labor Day weekend at the Silver
Dollar City theme park in Branson, Mo.

“Our reason for doing it is to reach out to
our fans and be at the places where they are
and would expect us to be,” GAC marketing
vice president Scott Durand (who attended
all the events) told The Wire ahead of his
visit to Branson.

A big draw is the giveaway of a guitar
signed by all of the artists at any given event,
Durand said. GAC also puts on a beanbag
toss to win koozies and T-shirts during the
down time between acts.

At the CMA Music Festival, one dealer
said he came away with 2,000 potential
subscriber leads after four days, according
to Durand.

October
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