DIRECTV Campaign – So Good it Keeps You Wanting More

Love that DIRECTV television campaign.  Classic final lines…

“Don’t wake up in a roadside ditch,” and…

“Don’t have a grandson with a dog collar,” and….

“Don’t reenact scenes from Platoon with Charlie Sheen.”

Hilarious. I just can’t get enough of these ads.  They crack me up.

This current television campaign which has been featured during the NCAA basketball tournament is not just engaging but it is built on a really solid strategic advertising foundation.  That is hard to find these days.

Yes, the DIRECTV campaign is very entertaining due to great copy writing, witty humor, excellent talent (on-camera and voice over) and awesome production values.  (All of this matters.)


But, the campaign is also extremely smart because, amid all the engaging humor, it delivers on some of the tried and proven principles of advertising –  without being at all obvious.

#1 – It’s about solving customers problems. Each execution starts with a real customer issue –  being put on hold when people call cable customer service, they can’t record all their shows, or the search function with cable is difficult.  No doubt, DIRECTV did their homework to uncover what really frustrates customers the most about their experiences with cable.  The lesson here is if you want to build an effective brand, find out what frustrates customers in your category.  Then, solve those frustrations.

#2 – Simple call to action.  “Get rid of cable, upgrade to DIRECTV.”  Call the 800 number or visit the web site. Now, to make this campaign extremely effective, I hope DIRECTV makes this process as simple and hassle free as possible.  If not, the ROI on all this advertising will drop significantly. “Walk” the “talk” is a critical component to success here.

#3 – Position your brand vis a vis the competition.  Connecting who you are as a brand in the customer’s mind is a challenge.  Help your customer by sending a message of what your brand is all about AND how your brand is relative to your competition.  In other words, let your competition define who you are.  It is really smart.

With this campaign’s brand tone and message,  DIRECTV positions itself as “cool,” and just as forcefully positions the competition cable as “not cool”.  Believe me, keeping to such a positioning leads to much more brand loyalty than the ads Comcast and Verizon are doing by primarily focusing on special price offerings.

You either strategically manage your brand or someone else will do it for you.  DIRECTV is strategically managing its brand as well as the Comcast, Verizon, and other cable company brands.

I remember from my Pepsi days how strong and effective a “we’re hip and the competition is not” positioning can be.  Pepsi was the master in delivering this focused strategy in new and interesting ways for many decades against its competition – Coke.  For years, Pepsi delivered engaging advertising featuring youthful, energetic and fun spirited people (Remember the awesome campaigns: “The Pepsi Generation,” “For those who think young”, and  “The Choice of a New Generation” – just to name a few) Conversely, they always positioned Coke as old and a little ‘out of touch’ (Remember the classic ad where the archeology class of Pepsi drinking high schoolers in the year 2050 found a Coke bottle and no one knew what it was? Brilliant.)  Pepsi built a nice little business through all this and ironically, they used Coke to help them get there.

DIRECTV has a real opportunity here.  Again, they have to deliver on much more than the advertising by making their solutions easy and hassle free and by solving customers frustrations.

They also have the potential to entertain us for years.  And,  I am certainly up for that.


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