Comcast To Discontinue Some Ads That Take Aim At DirecTV

Seven months after Comcast was warned by an ad watchdog to check itself before wrecking itself when it came to badmouthing DirectTV, the same organization has recommended that the cable behemoth discontinue ads that allegedly exaggerate its rival’s problem with satellite signal interruptions.

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

According to NAD, DirecTV challenged Comcast’s “Bad Weather” ads (see one below, before Comcast DMCAs it out of existence), saying they grossly exaggerate the degree to which DirecTV’s satellite signal is interrupted during bad weather.

DirecTV claimed that Comcast’s advertising misled consumers into believing that with weather-related signal disruptions are routine and lengthy for DirecTV customers, and that something as simple as rain commonly causes satellite customers to miss entire evenings of their favorite shows.

At question were assertions made in two versions of Comcast’s “Bad Weather” commercials, which featured an intro to the tune of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time.”

The first version of the commercial included the lyrics “If it rains or it storms, you might lose TV … No shows tonight … When there’s snow or high winds, or even hail … Kiss your shows goodbye.”

The spot also featured the disclaimer “severe weather (heavy rain or snow) may interfere with a satellite signal causing the picture to freeze or pixelate” twice.

The revised commercial included an additional disclaimer that “picture outages may not interfere with entire shows or all shows in an evening. The likelihood, frequency, and duration of interference will depend on the storm.”

NAD noted in its decision that the phrases “no shows tonight” and “kiss your shows goodbye” are express claims that “literally tell the consumer that in bad weather they will not get satellite television service.”

According to NAD, both the original and revised commercials state “if” or “when” there is rain, storms, hail or high winds, it is a certainty that consumers will experience “no shows tonight” and can “kiss [their] shows goodbye.”

With the finding, NAD recommended that both the original and revised version of the “Bad Weather” commercial be discontinued.

It also advised Comcast that in future advertising the company should avoid language or imagery of an absolute nature or the implication that service interruption in severe weather is typical or a certainty and will last for entire programs or an evening’s worth of television viewing.

In a statement to NAD, Comcast said it would abide by the recommendations.

While the company says it took issue with some findings, it “nevertheless appreciates NAD’s review and analysis and, as a strong supporter of voluntary advertising self-regulation, accepts and agrees to comply with NAD’s recommendations.”

This isn’t the first time NAD has weighed in on Comcast’s satellite reliability commercials. NAD notes that it has previously investigated similar claims levied against Comcast by DirecTV. In those instances, it also found the commercials — which included claims that DirecTV service was unreliable — to be unsupported.

The watchdog says that neither Comcast, nor DirecTV presented new evidence about service liability.