The Better Business Bureau has recommended to DirecTV that the provider remove its commercials featuring Rob Lowe, because the company cannot back up many of the claims made in the ads.
The commercials—which feature the Parks and Recreation actor playing versions of himself like “super creepy” Rob Lowe and “far less attractive” Rob Lowe— state that DirecTV receives 99% signal reliability, up to 1080p HD programming, higher picture and sound quality than cable and more sports programming than its competitors. DirecTV also says it received a No. 1 customer satisfaction rating and provides customers with shorter wait times than its cable counterparts.
At the end of the commercials, Lowe declares, “Don’t be like this me. Get rid of cable and upgrade to DirecTV.”
Cable provider Comcast questioned these assertions, and upon investigation, the Better Business Bureau National Advertising Division (NAD) found DirecTV unable to substantiate its claims of higher picture and sound quality, more sports programming or top-notch customer service. The NAD added that Lowe’s claim at the end of the ads offered a “comparative and unsupported superiority message.”
“[Although] humor can be an effective and creative way for advertisers to highlight the differences between their products and their competitor’s, humor and hyperbole do not relieve an advertiser of the obligation to support messages that their advertisements might reasonably convey—especially if the advertising disparages a competitor’s product,” the NAD said.
In a statement to EW, DirecTV said, “Even though we have a direct competitor trying to restrict our advertising, we definitely reserve the right to bring back the Rob Lowe campaign, either in its current form or with new spots, it has been extremely successful for the brand.”
DirecTV stopped airing the commercials as planned, and has moved on to a new ad campaign featuring Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Hannah Davis. “The Rob Lowe spots were always scheduled to end at the end of Q1, we always planned to launch our new campaign with Hannah Davis in the Final Four,” the statement said. Still, DirecTV will appeal the accusations that its Lowe ads are misleading.