DirecTV Spots Bond Families, Their DVRs

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Depicting the supposed family bonds that can be strengthened via its new digital video recorder, DirecTV Inc. plays to the heartstrings of TV viewers in a series of new commercials that show parents talking to their kids about the device.

One of the 30-second spots features an African-American man and his son sitting on a couch. The boy asks his father to read him a book, before saying, “oh, football,” when he notices his father watching a ball game.

“That’s OK — I can freeze time,” the father responds, as he snaps his fingers and hits the pause button.

“Do it again!” his son pleads, apparently impressed with his father’s ability to freeze live pigskin action.

New York ad agency BBDO created the DVR spots to help the DBS leader promote its new “DirecTV Plus” DVR, which debuted earlier this month. The spots, scheduled on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, A&E Network, FX, Sci Fi Channel, TBS, Turner Network Television, USA Network, ESPN and FSN, began running Oct. 10.

A 30-second spot for the DirecTV Plus DVR shows a Caucasian man and his daughter outside their home, gazing at the stars.

“Star light, star bright, I wish I had a pony,” the girl says.

Her father responds: “I wish I could record a whole season of my favorite show.

“That’s not a star, honey — it’s a satellite,” he adds.

BBDO vice chairman and executive creative director Al Merrin said one of the messages the spots aim to convey to viewers is that, “Technology shouldn’t rule their lives. They should rule TV.”

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Merrin said two additional DVR spots will hit the air soon — one featuring a teenager that is constantly interrupted, and a second spot featuring a kid in a classroom boasting about “how her daddy lets her watch cartoons, even during Sunday football.”

DirecTV is essentially giving away the DirecTV Plus DVR for free through a promotion that runs until Nov. 5. Consumers that sign up for one of DirecTV’s Total Choice programming packages for two years can get the DirecTV DVR for $99. After redeeming a $100 rebate for the DVR, the 180-hour device is free.

BBDO began producing commercials for DirecTV last year. The first campaign from BBDO focused on a “rethink TV” theme. The spots featured actors who, once told the combined price of DirecTV’s programming packages and Sunday Ticket NFL package, said, “I must be dreaming.”

NASCAR TIES

DirecTV also plans to rely on NASCAR to promote its products. Last week, the company cut a deal that gives it exclusive rights to use the stock car circuit’s brand in marketing and advertising promotions through early 2010. DirecTV said it will also sponsor an unnamed NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race team and driver in the 2006 season.

The deal would also allow DirecTV to use NASCAR trademarks and tag lines on installer uniforms, service trucks and even satellite receivers. DirecTV said it will integrate the NASCAR brand into many of its marketing campaigns, including those that focus on its new DirecTV Plus DVR.

DirecTV spends heavily on marketing to obtain new customers. During the second quarter, the satellite company said its subscriber-acquisition costs worked out to $646 per new customer, flat compared to the same period the prior year. The marketing expenditures paid off in the addition of 964,000 gross subscribers during the quarter.

DirecTV said in August that it spent $223 million on marketing for subscription upgrades and subscriber retention efforts during the second quarter.

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