Why did DirecTV pull its Rob Lowe commercials?

Say goodbye to 'peaked in high school' Rob Lowe and 'far less attractive' Rob Lowe. DirecTV is canceling its ad campaign featuring the actor after complaints about false advertising claims from Comcast and the Better Business Bureau.

Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP­/File
Actor Rob Lowe attends the Entertainment Industry Awards Dinner at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. Lowe stars in ads for DirecTV encouraging people to switch from cable.

Rob Lowe will no longer be playing his own inferior alter-egos, as DirecTV is canceling its advertising campaign featuring the actor after being accused of false advertising. The ads feature an eternally youthful and pristinely dressed Lowe, who has DirecTV, and his unappealing counterparts "super creepy" Rob Lowe, "painfully awkward" Rob Lowe, and "peaked in high school" Rob Lowe, who all have cable. 

After receiving complaints about the accuracy of claims made in the DirecTV ads from competitor Comcast, the National Advertising Division, which is part of the Council of Better Business Bureaus and fact checks advertisements, decided that the commercials were misleading.

Among the NAD’s suggestions was that the company discontinue the catchphrase “Don't be like this me. Get rid of cable and upgrade to DirecTV" because it "conveyed a comparative and unsupported superiority message."

“Humor can be an effective and creative way for advertisers to highlight the differences between their products and their competitor’s,” the NAD said in a statement. However, “humor and hyperbole do not relieve an advertiser of the obligation to support messages that their advertisements might reasonably convey — especially if the advertising disparages a competitor’s product.”

The NAD challenged DirecTV over a litany of other unsubstantiated claims, including “with DirecTV you get 99 percent signal reliability,” “DirecTV is No. 1 in customer satisfaction over all cable TV providers,” “DirecTV is the undisputed leader in sports which means you can watch all the games you want to,” and up to 1080p picture quality.” It did find that a few of the claims, such as 99 percent signal reliability, were solid, but several others had no basis in fact.

DirecTV “continues to believe that the various Rob Lowe advertisements are so outlandish and exaggerated that no reasonable consumer would believe that the statements being made by the alter-ego characters are comparative or need to be substantiated,” the company said in a statement. 

However, this is not the first time that DirecTV has been accused of false advertising.

In March, the Federal Trade Commission reported that DirecTV was misleading customers by advertising a 12-month plan for just $19.95, when it actually required a two-year contract that become nearly twice as expensive in the second year. 

Lowe may make an appearance in DirecTV commercials in the future, however, as the company was in the process of creating five new alter-ego characters for him, including "total deadbeat" Rob Lowe, who gets surgery in a hotel room to save money.

"We've talked with Rob about doing something else in the future," Gieselman told the LA Times. "He loves the campaign. He's completely gotten into the characters."

Until then, DirecTV’s new ad campaign uses the same alter-ego concept, this time with Sports Illustrated swimsuit models Hannah Davis, Chrissy Teigen, and Nina Agdal.

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