You can probably name all the Rob Low alter-egos: The one with the shy bladder. The one with hair curtains. The one too skinny to open a jar of mayonnaise. And the creepy one who watches “folks swim” at the rec center. But you’ll never see them again – the ads have been pulled.
The National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau took all the fun out the cheeky and sometimes offensive Lowe spots, responding to a complaint from Comcast, which said DirecTV’s ads were downright balderdash.
In each ad, Rob Lowe plays himself, announcing to viewers in his suave and charming way that he has DirecTV. Then his anti-social, predatory, downright ugly, or repugnant alter-ego appears, announcing that he has cable. Each spot ends with the line: “Don’t be like this me. Get rid of cable and upgrade to DirecTV,” Time explained.
Except… they can’t really say that. Comcast said the concluding line was a lie and the BBB agreed. Though the company makes a decent point: the ads “are so outlandish and exaggerated that no reasonable consumer would believe that the statements being made by the alter-ego characters are comparative or need to be substantiated.”
Even so, companies still aren’t allowed to make outlandish claims they can’t prove. And the company couldn’t back its assertion that their signal was better, customers didn’t have to wait for service, or that the sound and picture quality and its sports channels were better than cable, Deadline reported.
All this proves that the companies who provide us with TV are tearing each other’s throats out to get our attention.
“The category is not growing,” DirecTV‘s senior vice president of marketing Jon Gieselman told the Los Angeles Times. “People are leaving pay TV. It’s a share shifting challenge. We’re trying to steal one another’s customers.”
And the Rob Lowe ads worked pretty well, too. Since they started, the company earned 149,000 more subscribers. That’s because they resonated with viewers, even though nearly every single Rob Lowe doppelganger offended someone, Times‘ Stephen Battaglio told CBS News. (The Painfully Awkward Rob Lowe offended people with shy bladders and the ad was pulled).
“If you can make people stop and watch a commercial today, that is a really big deal.”
And Rob really got into it, but there may be hope.
“We’ve talked with Rob about doing something else in the future,” Gieselman said. “He loves the campaign. He’s completely gotten into the characters.”
Rob Lowe’s super funny ads were going to come to an end anyway, though. DirecTV has started a new campaign with Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover model Hannah Davis and a talking horse.
Skinny Arms Rob Lowe is probably much funnier.
[Photo Courtesy YouTube Screengrab]