Ad Watchdog Warns Comcast & Dish To Use Caution When Dissing DirecTV

Image courtesy of Bill Barter

Pay-TV services might need to be a bit more careful when it comes to the messages they put out into the universe following an ad watchdog’s suggestion that Comcast and Dish revise some of the claims made against competitors in national ads.

The National Advertising Division — an independent industry watchdog administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus — investigated complaints leveled at Comcast and DISH from rival DirecTV finding that some of the claims made in advertisements weren’t truthful.

Specifically, in Comcast’s case, NAD found that the service provider should discontinue unsupported claims made in two separate ads, including claims that DirecTV is built on old technology and that Comcast subscribers have access to four times more unique TV show and movie titles on-demand than DirecTV subscribers.

According to NAD, DirecTV challenged the express and implied claims that appear in ads titled “Get Faster” and “Reruns” that highlight Comcast’s Xfinity X1 set-top box cable service

In “Get Faster,” Comcast featured dancers with satellite dishes, singing “we built this thingy on tech that’s old” — set to the tune of “We Built This City on Rock and Roll.” In one scene, an actress states: “Yeah, XFINITY built this newer thingy that lets me search with my voice.” The commercial then ends with this voiceover: “Don’t fall for DirecTV. Find shows faster with the X1 Voice Remote.”

In “Reruns,” Comcast parodies another ’80 song — “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” — using the phrase “Everybody is bored tonight. They’re watching reruns tonight.” A voiceover in the commercial claims that Comcast subscribers “get four times more TV shows and movies on demand with XFINITY.”

NAD agreed with all of DirecTV’s complaints, except for one that referred to watching reruns, noting that the phrasing did not need substantiated.

In a statement to NAD, Comcast’s advertiser says it will take the watchdog’s recommendations into account when developing future advertisements.

In another recommendation on Thursday, NAD reviewed additional claims by DirecTV directed toward ads used by Dish.

According to NAD, DirecTV took issue with Dish’s claims in six ads that subscribers of DirecTV pay an average of more than $100 per month, and pay additional fees for viewing local channels.

Dish advertisers told NAD that they had discontinued two of the three ad claims challenged by DirecTV: a claim that DirecTV customers pay an average of over $100 per month and the claim that DirecTV imposes a “Year One Price Increase” on its customers.”

As a result, the watchdog did not review the claims, but noted that the voluntarily discontinued claims will be treated, for compliance purposes, as though NAD recommended their discontinuance and the advertiser agreed to comply.

As for the remaining claim, that DirecTV imposes a “local channels fee” — featured in an ad where a pay-TV installer informs a consumer that he cannot watch television without first swiping his credit card on a remote control — NAD determined that consumers were unlikely to take away a message that DirecTV, specifically, charges a local channels fee.

The decision was made based on the fact that DirecTV isn’t mentioned and there are no visual references to DirecTV in that portion of the ad.

In a statement to NAD about the recommendations, Dish says it agrees with the local fee findings, but “respectfully disagrees with NAD treating the claims that it did not review on their merits as though NAD recommended their discontinuance and DISH agreed to comply.”

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