Ad Watchdog Recommends DirecTV Cease 4K Claims

AT&T may already be killing off the DirecTV name, but that doesn’t mean its recently acquired pay-TV brand doesn’t have to answer for its possibly misleading advertisements. As such, a national ad review board has directed the company – at the behest of Charter Communications – to discontinue claims made in its “Hannah and Her Horse” campaign that suggests all of its programming is available via 4K technology. 

The National Advertising Division (NAD), which is part of the national Council of Better Business Bureaus and a self-regulation body for the advertising industry, recommended on Wednesday that DirecTV discontinue certain claims in the commercials that are related to pricing, wireless ability and 4K content after receiving a complaint from rival Charter.

While recommendations from NAD aren’t legally binding, most companies generally follow them. For its part, DirecTV plans to appeal the decision, saying in a statement to NAD that it disagrees with the assertion that its ads “convey any misleading impressions” regarding service.

The commercial in question features Sports Illustrated supermodel Hannah Davis and a “talking” horse walking down a beach opining that DirectTV’s 4K programming and wireless technology.

NAD’s probe centered on Charter’s challenge that DirecTV’s claims implied that most or all of the company’s programming was available in 4K; customers can get DirecTV’s 4K content and wireless service for $19.99/month and that DirecTV has eliminated the need for wires and set-top boxes.

In the end, the ad board determined that while DirecTV is one of the few companies offering 4K content and that it should be able to advertise that service, it wasn’t exactly telling the truth in how much programming is available.

NAD noted the company only offers a small number of movies in 4k and not general programming.

“NAD was concerned that the challenged advertisements could reasonably convey the message that DirecTV offers a substantial amount of 4K content,” the board said.

As a result of the findings, NAD recommend that DirecTV modify its claim to clearly address the developing nature of 4K technology and tailor its claim by specifying the number of movies and/or program provided through the service.

The review board also expressed concerns that consumers watching the ad might assume that 4K programming and wireless service features were included in the $19.99 price point, when that’s not the case.

NAD recommended that the advertiser modify its pricing claim to clarify that programming packages begin at that price and make clear that the price does not include the advertised 4K or wireless services.

Additionally, NAD recommend that DirecTV discontinue or modify its “free upgrade” and wireless claims related to the Genie HD DVR to specify that the company itself isn’t wireless, that the references are to cable wires and boxes and that the Genie Mini can be hidden behind the TV.

This the second time DirecTV has run into issues with the ad review board this year. In April, NAD recommended the company pull its quirky promotions featuring Rob Lowe and a parade of peculiar alter-egos, after investigating a complaint from rival Comcast.

DirecTV appealed the board’s findings that some of the claims in the ads were unsubstantiated, but an appeals board upheld the determination. Since then DirecTV has rolled out several new “alter-ego” commercials featuring football players like Peyton Manning and Tony Romo.