Today, I opened some mail from DirecTV. I usually throw these adverts into the “circular” file. But something about the envelope made me want to read what was inside.
The first thing I noticed was a stamped-on statement saying “CHARTER CABLE BANKRUPTCY.” In the letter, DirecTV, a satellite TV company, said the recent bankruptcy of Charter would make it impossible for the cable TV provider to bring me the latest technologies. The letter also offered some pretty amazing deals. Almost too amazing.
(Charter, by the way, has filed for bankruptcy protection, which I’ve written about before.)
My initial reaction was that DirecTV seemed desperate attacking its rival and offering such low rates. Desperate times, after all, call for desperate measures, right? Talk about low blows and dirty advertising!
That reaction lasted about 5 seconds.
DirecTV, I realize now, has a valid point. How on Earth can Charter work on bringing you the greatest technologies when it will be head down for the next year paying back creditors? For the near future, Charter will be focusing on survival…not innovation.
True, the ad is a little dirty. But it’s dirty good. Let me clarify. Dirty bad is corking your bat. Dirty good is a first baseman pretending to give the ball to the pitcher, only to keep it hidden in his glove…and tagging the base runner out when he takes a lead.
In advertising, dirty bad would be saying you offer something when you really don’t. Dirty good would be Apple‘s brilliant campaign against the PC.
The DirecTV campaign is some pretty aggressive advertising. Especially given the financial times we’re in. Bankruptcies and bailouts are all the rage right now.
But it’s also convincing. So much so that Charter has filed suit. In the lawsuit, recently filed in the U.S. District Court in Missouri, Charter claims the advertisements are “false and deceptive.”
I’m no attorney, but I don’t think Charter has much of chance here. The only words that could be under debate are the following: “As they focus on their problems, there’s no way they’ll be able to bring you the latest technology…”
While it’s true DirecTV can’t prove there’s “no way,” I do believe the spirit of the ads are accurate. And effective. This is a great call to action for consumers looking for the most up-to-date technologies for the lowest price. Most important, it is true.
There could be a downside, though: Some consumers might see this campaign as too negative. However, I think these consumers will be few and far between. This is a cutthroat business. As politicians need to clamor for your vote in close elections, TV service providers are also clamoring for your subscription. This business is so competitive, I firmly believe strong advertising will be what separates the winners from the losers.
I’m curious…what do you think? Is this campaign spot-on–is it effective marketing? Or is it just plain dirty?