DirecTV Group, Inc.

Author:Ed Dinger

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2230 East Imperial Hwy.

El Segundo, California 90245


Telephone: (310) 535-5225

Web site:


In June 2003 the DirecTV Group, Inc., provider of satellite television, launched a new marketing campaign featuring commercials with A-list Hollywood actors giving dramatic readings of actual fan letters received by the client. The use of celebrities was intended to help elevate DirecTV above its competition: cable television providers and direct-broadcast satellite rival Dish Network, both of which had begun imitating DirecTV's successful commercials featuring Dan the installer.

Developed by ad agency Deutsch/LA, the new $100 million-plus campaign consisted primarily of TV spots, which included such actors as Joan Cusack, Danny DeVito, Robert Duvall, Laurence Fishburne, and Andy Garcia. Comedian Dennis Miller anchored radio spots, and a print ad was introduced featuring a picture of actor Dennis Hopper. The TV spots were shot against a bare background with nothing more than a stool. What made them powerful was the enthusiasm of the customers' letters and the ability of veteran actors to read the letters with equal conviction. The atmosphere was kept lighthearted, resulting in impromptu remarks that found their way into the commercials. In one, for example, DeVito, following his rant called "Lies," asked the crew in a joking manner, "Did I capture the guy's anger?"

"Celebrities Read Fan Mail to DirecTV (Become a DirecTV Fan Now)" lasted little more than a year, ending in July 2004. While it proved a boon to DirecTV, which enjoyed four straight quarters of increased subscribers, the same could not be said of Deutsch. Despite its good work and excellent relationship with DirecTV's marketing people, the agency lost the account even before the campaign closed.


Deutsch/LA established its relationship with DirecTV in 2000 when it won a creative project for Sunday Ticket, the exclusive National Football League package of Sunday games. Deutsch won the entire creative account later in the year when DirecTV put up its business for review. With just under 9 million subscribers, DirecTV was the dominant player in its category but, after a solid run of several years, it had become engaged in a fight for survival, threatened on one side by rival satellite providers and on the other by digital cable. In the fall of 2000 DirecTV ran the first television commercials developed by Deutsch. Centered around Dan the DirecTV installer, these commercials became the focal point of DirecTV's marketing campaign for the next year and a half. While successful, the installer campaign led some viewers to mistake DirecTV for a hardware company. The installer

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concept grew even less attractive when Dish Network and cable companies began using installers in their own ads.

With the installer becoming everybody's spokesperson of the moment, DirecTV felt that the waters had been muddied and its brand diminished in the process. The company believed it was imperative that DirecTV launch a new marketing campaign that would not only reinforce its position as an entertainment company but also reassert its leadership position and restore some luster to the brand.


In the campaign that would succeed Dan the installer, DirecTV targeted existing customers, hoping to keep them on board. The company also wanted to appeal to potential new...

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