By Wayne Karrfalt
Special to TelevisionWeek
DirecTV has taken a different direction with its newest branding campaign, urging viewers to “Rethink TV.” Instead of relying on celebrity shills to read letters of praise on air as the company did in its previous national campaign, the direct-to-home satellite TV service sought to remind viewers how far television has come as a medium and to stake the claim that DirecTV is right there on the cutting edge.
The campaign, created by BBDO, New York, kicked off Feb. 6 with a 60-second spot on sister News Corp. company Fox’s Super Bowl broadcast. That ad celebrated stages in a man’s life by depicting memorable television milestones, from Lucille Ball selling Vitameatavegamin on “I Love Lucy” in 1952 to Neil Armstrong’s televised walk on the moon in 1969 to Mark McGwire’s record-breaking home run during the 1998 baseball season.
The goal was simple-to create an emotional connection with the audience through television and tie it to the DirecTV brand.
“We’ve gone on record to say we’re committed to providing the best possible TV experience in America,” said Neal Tiles, executive VP of marketing for DirecTV. “This is what is resonating with people. Television is an emotional product in most American homes, and we want to connect with people on that level.”
DirecTV’s ad department followed up the Super Bowl spot with two 30-second commercials that will air through the end of June on cable and broadcast networks. Local print and radio ads trumpeting the company’s innovations will also run through June in the top 20 media markets across the country.
Promax&BDA chief Jim Chabin said the Super Bowl spot helped change the mind-set consumers have toward satellite TV in general and DirecTV in particular. The medium is no longer seen as just an alternative for people in remote areas who don’t have access to cable, he said: “People are now looking at DirecTV as a first choice.”
The campaign is also being recognized for raising awareness about what DirecTV offers consumers, including digital video recorder capability, local high-definition signals and exclusive content such as NFL Sunday Ticket. Two subsequent spots introduced this year highlighted the group’s new satellite launches, providing the capacity to carry more than 1,500 local channels in HD.
“They began to make the public aware of unique selling features other systems don’t have, and this has helped them increase their subscriber numbers dramatically,” Mr. Chabin said.
Already coming off a record year in 2004, DirecTV set records again during the first quarter of 2005, adding 1.14 million gross and 505,000 net subscribers.
Also receiving an award will be Tracy Devine, senior director of advertising for DirecTV.
Title: Executive VP,
How long in current position: Since January 2004
Year of birth: 1965
Place of birth: New York
Who knew? While Mr. Tiles was senior VP of advertising at Fox Sports from 1997 to 2004, the network won more than 100 major advertising awards.