The National Advertising Division (NAD) announced that it has recommended that Charter Communications discontinue a version of the MSO’s “Monsters: Charades” commercial that includes the claim: “TV that cuts out in the rain is evil. Spectrum is reliable.”
DirecTV, the nation’s largest satellite TV provider, challenged the Charter ads that went before NAD for review. Watch a version of the "Charades" ad below that centers on claims that rain can contribute to poor satellite TV reception:
NAD, an investigative unit that is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus, also targeted language in the ad that states “Satellite TV Bad. Spectrum Good,” and also recommended that Charter stop an earlier commercial in its "Monsters" ad campaign in which the Grim Reaper states that his family’s satellite dish “went out in the rain, again.”
NAD noted that Charter, to support its claim on rain fade issues, provided a survey of DirecTV and Dish Network customers supporting the premise that rain fade is not a rare occurrence for satellite TV customers, and that it’s a source of frustration for them. Further, NAD noted that 62% of those surveyed acknowledged experiencing some lost service due to rain in the past year, and that 42% of those that experienced some lost service due to rain found that it occurred “frequently” or “almost always.”
Based on that evidence, NAD said it determined that the message conveyed by a revised version of the commercial – that occasional outages due to rain and other inclement weather are a consumer relevant occurrence – were supported.
“However, NAD found that the voiceover and text appearing at the end of the commercial – ‘TV that cuts out in the rain is evil. Spectrum is reliable. Satellite TV Bad. Spectrum Good’ – conveys a broader, unsupported message that satellite television service is highly unreliable in inclement weather and/or does not work in the rain,” NAD added. “NAD recommended Charter discontinue the claim in the context in which it appeared.”
Charter told NAD that it will appeal NAD’s decision and issued this statement:
“Charter appreciates NAD’s conclusion that its nationwide survey of over 800 satellite customers about their experience with lost service due to rain supports the message communicated by its commercial that service outages due to rain are a consumer relevant occurrence for satellite television customers. Charter, however, strongly disagrees with NAD’s recommendation that it permanently discontinue an alternate version of the commercial that depicts a satellite television customer saying that his family lost service in the rain ‘again’ … .”
DirecTV, meanwhile, said it will file a cross-appeal of NAD’s determination that messages conveyed by a revised version of the commercial – occasional outages due to rain and other inclement weather are a consumer relevant occurrence – were supported.
The ad fight is the latest in a recent string between cable operators and satellite TV competitors.
In late 2016, the Better Business Bureau's ad review arm advised Charter to stop using broadcast ads that made what it said were "unsubstantiated” claims about the impact of the AT&T-DirecTV merger on customer service. Those ads featured comedian Kevin Nealon as Captain Telstar, the commander of an orbiting satellite TV quarters that was made to look woefully out of date.
Earlier that year, NAD asked Comcast to stop making claims in two ads, including this one holding that its customers had access to four times more unique TV shows and movies on demand than DirecTV.