A few months back, as the wife and I watched DVR’d TV shows on a cold winter’s eve, a funny thing happened: We stopped fast forwarding through a commercial break to watch one of the ads.
It was the latest Rob Lowe DirectTV spot at the time. But last week, DirecTV ended that campaign after Comcast objected to some of the commercials’ claims.
What made those ads so good wasn’t that they were funny enough to get you to stop skipping through a commercial break. (You can still watch them all, incidentally, on DirecTV’s YouTube channel.) When they launched last fall, the alternative Rob Lowes stayed on point; their unfortunate circumstances or ridiculous behavior tied directly to the shortcomings of cable. For example, “Creepy Rob Lowe” was “down at the rec center, watchin’ folks swim” because his cable was out:
(By the way, is Creepy Rob Low related to Joe Biden? Or a time-traveling Young Joe Biden?)
Compare that to recent entries like “Total Deadbeat Rob Lowe,” whose divorce and back alley dice games do nothing to highlight cable’s shortcomings. After loaning his car to a drifter, “Poor Decision-Making Rob Lowe” would miss his show even if he had DirecTV. The commercials were still funny, but they were becoming unfocused and non-product centered.
In other words, they were about to lose their effectiveness.
Comcast may have done DirecTV a big favor by forcing the campaign to end before it got silly.