The monster creative duel between Direct TV and Charter Spectrum

In Ad Creative, Memorable Marketing on February 25, 2018 at 5:23 pm

If you live in a “Charter Spectrum” area, you quite likely are familiar with the ad battle currently going on between the company and Direct TV. The latter has put extensive weight behind it’s campaign that attempts to make fun (or in my view, ridicule) those people who still “prefer cable.” In the process, they show an endless chain of poor mopes who, to support the metaphor, enjoy things like walking into glass doors, spilling hot coffee in their laps, getting poison ivy, or paper cuts on their tongues …you get the idea.

Meanwhile, Charter Spectrum has created a family of cliche’ horror movie monsters, including a mummy, an evil doctor, a killer dummy, the grim reaper, and several others. We enjoy their frustration when bad weather or other problems knock their Direct TV service off the air.  Many entertaining situations result, as we see the hideous group on the subway, during poker night, even trying to cut down a tree blocking their satellite signal.  

(My favorite version  features death himself trying to lead a game of charades to pass the time. He gets into a sarcastic exchange with the caustic little dummy, while the mild-mannered mummy and the simple-minded alien attempt to grasp the conversation.)

My own verdict?  Famous adman David Ogilvy once said, “the customer is not a moron, she’s your wife.”  I will be accused of overthinking this, I know. But Direct TV is attempting to convince cable-users to switch. I don’t think you move them very far along that sales funnel by depicting them as laughable idiots.

Charter Spectrum, on the other hand, doesn’t brand its potential customers as morons. It simply chooses a hapless group of victims who happen to be the same villainous stereotypes that terrify us in classic movies. We enjoy seeing them get their comeuppance at the hands of Direct TV.   Even better, since the writing and character development in the series is very well done, in my opinion.

So for my money, Charter Spectrum wins this bout. Casual viewers not interested in the category may enjoy Direct TV’s jabs at non-users. But serious prospects currently using cable may be a bit put off.  And as a cable user myself, I love the campaign. Maybe down the line we’ll find out that it’s the gremlin from the classic William Shatner Twilight Zone episode messing with their satellite dish.  (Feel free to use the idea, Spectrum. A few months free for the trouble wouldn’t hurt, though….)



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