The AT&T-DirecTV merger — in addition to potentially spreading access to NFL’s coveted Sunday Ticket service to people without a satellite dish — has apparently resulted in a new philosophy in DirecTV’s very weird advertising campaigns. Out is the affable and handsome Rob Lowe, whose dapper threads and easy charm made the contrast between DirecTV-having Rob Lowe and his creepy counterparts, who had cable.
That campaign got killed after outcry from cable companies, the Better Business Bureau, and groups for people with social anxiety disorder, who found “painfully awkward Rob Lowe” painfully unfunny. (Presumably the people who should have been offended by “peaked in high school Rob Lowe” and “meathead Rob Lowe” lacked the self-awareness to be properly offended.) But the idea that you’re a cooler, better, more attractive, more confident, and generally more appealing version of yourself when you have DirecTV, as opposed to when you have cable, persists in the company’s new campaign starring Tony Romo.
At least, we think that’s the idea they’re going for here. The new spot, which debuted this weekend, features Romo at a stadium, in a suit, explaining, “I’m Tony Romo, and I have DirecTV,” alongside an alternate version of Romo in a crocheted vest and a turtleneck, wearing a hideous neck beard and the king of all bald wigs, who declares himself “arts-and-craftsy Tony Romo, and I have cable.” It’s the same basic formula as Lowe’s bit, albeit with fewer shots at people with anxiety disorders and specific claims about signal reliability and picture and sound quality. Instead, the Romo-led spot focuses on how the QB with the full head of hair gets to enjoy watching every game on Sunday with DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket, while the cable customer spends his Sunday afternoons baking brownie-cupcake mash-ups.
That’s funny enough, but it also kind of falls apart if you think about it too hard. As Cowboys fans know, Romo is one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL—but he’s also one prone to multiple five-interception games in his career, and has a rep for choking away big games with costly turnovers at the worst possible time. In other words, aside from the hair and the fashion sense, it’d be entirely fair for a cable company to point out that the ad is really saying, “Hi, I’m never-gonna-win-a-Super-Bowl Tony Romo, and I have DirecTV, and I’m bakes-you-delicious-snacks Tony Romo, and I have cable.” At the very least, the first Sunday that this commercial airs after Romo tosses a pick-six with two minutes left to go in the game, Cowboys fans are probably going to be wishing Rob Lowe were their quarterback instead.
(screencap via DirecTV/YouTube)