For a couple of months now, DirecTV has had a campaign poking fun at cable by presenting far-reaching and over-the-top scenarios where your life becomes a trash heap because you have cable. For some of you, there is no difference between a satellite provider and a cable provider. One might have more sports than another, another might have a couple of different channels, but all in all they seem the same. However, what DirecTV is doing is responding to a disgruntled cable-watching public through their hilarious ads, showing that you do have a choice, and that cable isn't the only way to watch pay TV.
Breaking Down The DirecTV "Don't" Ads
The campaign began in January with "Don't Have A Grandson With A Dog Collar:"
I think what I love the most about these ads is how the "logical conclusion" to the story becomes the reason to cut cable and get a dish. With a straight-laced delivery from voiceover guy Robb Webb, "Don't have a grandson with a dog collar" is the consequence of "When your cable is on the fritz, you get frustrated," where traditional ads would have continued harping on the "unreliability" of cable. The DirecTV ads, however, decide to take it to the next level. It's not just cable you have to worry about, it's your entire life.
On YouTube, these ads have hundreds of thousands of views. But DirecTV probably ran into one that will get into the millions with their new Charlie Sheen ad:
Released a few days ago, this one is already up there with all the other ads in the campaign, and likely to get higher once people really start talking about it. What I like about the Charlie Sheen ad in particular is that they didn't go for any obvious jokes here. None of the Charlie Sheen meltdown from last year is present in this ad. But the idea that "When you have cable and can't record all your shows" logically progresses to you "Reenacting scenes from Platoon with Charlie Sheen" is brilliant, and expertly presented, especially since the ad continues its public service announcement presentation by warning you, "Don't reenact scenes from Platoon with Charlie Sheen."
It wouldn't be surprising to me if DirecTV started making shorter ads, cutting straight to the bizarre. Imagine the Charlie Sheen ad without all the stuff before the Platoon scenario. Just as funny, I think. I hope they don't, really, since all the stuff in the middle is entertaining as well, but I wouldn't mind seeing an "out of context" series where it just goes straight for the "Don't do such and such, get rid of cable, etc."
DirecTV may have wasted a whole ad after introducing the Charlie Sheen one around the same time as they released, "Don't Sell Your Hair To A Wig Shop:"
That one is funny, but if I'm DirecTV, I want that Sheen one running as much as possible. The "Don't Sell Your Hair To A Wig Shop" ad is destined to be one of the lost ads of the campaign.
This might have been my favorite one until the Charlie Sheen ad. It's "Don't Wake Up In A Roadside Ditch:"
However you slice it, the DirecTV campaign, with the help of ad agency Grey New York, is getting people to watch. I'm not sure how well it's doing gaining them customers, but their presentation is excellent, and I think it definitely speaks to people who are fed up with cable, of which I know there are many. It won't speak to the people who believe all pay TV providers are bad, but it will speak to those who want pay TV but just can't tolerate the cable companies anymore. That's the audience they are trying to reach, and I think they do an incredible job of speaking to those people.