DirecTv Inc. is turning up the heat against its cable
competitors with a new television-ad campaign set to break on Monday, February 23rd.
And according to Tom Bracken, DirecTv's vice president
of advertising, the timing of the ad launch -- coinciding with announcements of cable-rate
increases across the country -- is no accident.
'We want DirecTv to be top-of-mind,' Bracken
said. 'We want to be the first thing that consumers think of when they're
thinking of dropping cable.'
The new TV-ad campaign follows fast on the heels of the
company's print campaign -- also directed toward cable subscribers that are looking
at rate increases -- which launched in 18 major markets earlier this month.
Part of a yearlong, $150 million promotional push, the new
campaign is DirecTv's third major television-advertising effort since it launched its
direct-broadcast satellite service in 1994.
DirecTv is using the four new TV commercials to introduce
its new tag line, 'What Are You Looking At?' It replaces the less aggressive,
'Satellite TV at Its Best.'
'The word 'satellite' has been taken out of
our ads altogether,' Bracken said. 'As the market has matured, we found that it
was time to evolve away from that.' Instead of focusing on satellite technology,
DirecTv will present itself as 'digital entertainment in the home,' he added.
'We have a window of opportunity here before cable
really gets into the digital market in a big way,' Bracken said.
Designed to show viewers in a graphic way that they can
switch from cable, the 'Cable Pull' ad shows a man ripping his coaxial cable out
of the wall. And in an ad titled, 'Mummy,' a man wrapped in cable wire breaks
free from cable to the tune of, 'Please Release Me.'
The company's first TV ads several years ago were
designed to educate consumers about DirecTv and the Digital Satellite System platform. The
second TV-ad launch was intended to drum up demand for DirecTv's wide array of
The new campaign is meant to deliver the more broad-based
message that DirecTv is an alternative to cable.
'Three years ago, if we had tried to position DirecTv
as a replacement to cable, consumers wouldn't have bought it,' Bracken said.
Although it hasn't always been the case, two-thirds of
new DirecTv subscribers now come from cable-passed areas. Bracken said former cable
subscribers make good DirecTv customers because they already enjoy watching a variety of
DirecTv bought ad time around shows that cable subscribers
are likely to watch. The buy includes 15 national cable networks -- including the Turner
Broadcasting System Inc. networks, A&E Network and Discovery Channel -- as well as
broadcast and syndicated television.
'The broadcast programs that we buy have a high index
against cable subscribers,' Bracken said. 'With NYPD Blue, for example,
we know that we get a high percentage of cable subscribers.'
Other primetime-programming buys include Home
Improvement, Mad About You, TheX-Files and 3rd Rock from the
DirecTv deliberately chose to wait until after the Olympic
Games were over to launch this new TV-ad campaign because there was so much ad clutter
surrounding the Games, Bracken said.
The new ads will initially run for five weeks, and they
will then be run again at different times throughout the year.
'We're going to be very promotional this
year,' Bracken said.
New ads focusing on specific consumer offers will be
intermixed with these new commercial spots.
Bracken said he's not afraid that DirecTv will mimic
other DBS companies that also position themselves against cable. While PrimeStar Partners
L.P. runs national-television ads -- including recent spots during the Super Bowl and the
Winter Olympics -- the company hasn't positioned itself aggressively against cable.
And 'EchoStar [Communications Corp.] really doesn't do big national-TV-ad
campaigns,' Bracken said.
EchoStar has gone after cable aggressively in print ads.
And it is promoting its Dish Network local-channel service with TV ads in a handful of