DirecTV Spectrum

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

27 November 2017

DirecTV Spectrum battle gets interesting

An ad war brews among TV operators prompting you to switch. The DirecTV Spectrum duel represents one of the few advertising battles where both air impressive advertising campaigns.

DirecTV SpectrumOn one hand, you have the DirecTV campaign featuring cable users who love being hurt. Like by your cable company. Banging your head. Cutting your tongue licking a stamp and so on. The implication being that it’s STUPID to be cable company subscriber.

On the other hand, you have the Spectrum ads claiming satellite companies are evil. With monsters (i.e., DirecTV) overcharging and lying to you.


“DirecTV let you down? Then you do feel manipulated, and may switch. Spectrum let you down? Then you do feel stupid, and may switch.”

It’s rare that competitors go so directly against each other. Usually, brands advertise their own product benefits, usually of the benign kind. Lower prices. Improved features. Blah, blah, blah.

Promoting only product benefits results in a continuous cycle that spins brands into irrelevancy. If you teach your audience to buy only on price or product benefit, then they’re more likely to switch when someone else comes along with cheaper prices and better features.

Where does all this lead for the DirecTV Spectrum face off?

The branding in the DirecTV Spectrum battle is much more interesting. They are attacking your very personal brand if you are a Spectrum subscriber (you’re stupid) or a DirecTV one (you submit to evil manipulation). Either way, the campaigns are funny, direct and memorable.

Where will this all lead? I suspect both are simply exchanging customers as both reach out to consumers at the point of failure. DirecTV let you down? Then you do feel manipulated, and may switch. Spectrum let you down? Then you do feel stupid, and may switch.

You can also make the argument that both present a brand face of their own customers. For DirecTV, their customers are smart. For Spectrum, their customers think for themselves.

The only issue is that the difference between them is not so far apart. Is one more emotionally intensive than the other? Not really. There’s more that both can do to create long-term preference.

However, the DirecTV Spectrum war is entertaining as hell. And I enjoy watching it.

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