Celebrity Endorsement Deals With Rob Lowe Cable Company Campaign


Table Of Contents

”Listen to audio version”

Rob Lowe And DIRECTV

Home entertainment brands have long utilized celebrity spokespeople to market their services. From Time Warner Cable’s star studded Super Bowl ads featuring P. Diddy, Drake, Jimmy Fallon, and the cast of Duck Dynasty to DIRECTV’s most recent partnership with Rob Lowe, home entertainment brands and celebrity endorsers are a natural fit. Consumers buy home entertainment services to enjoy their favorite TV shows and films, and, ostensibly, to see their favorite actors and actresses on screen at home.


DIRECTV vs. Cable Advertising Contrast


Other notable DIRECTV campaigns include the “Get Rid of Cable” campaign, but Rob Lowe’s celebrity endorsement has allowed for a stronger platform that engages consumers. The “Versus” campaign features Rob Lowe and strange, less appealing versions of Rob Lowe, including Painfully Awkward Rob Lowe, Creepy Rob Lowe, Less Attractive Rob Lowe, and Crazy Hairy Rob Lowe. The normal “cool” versions of Rob Lowe are DIRECTV, and the nightmare versions are cable. Lowe is most known for his roles on The West Wing, Thank you for Smoking, Californication, and Parks and Recreation.


Why Rob Lowe Is A Good Choice

  • Rob Lowe is quirky, comedic and appeals to both men and women. He’s also been in the public eye a long time and strikes a chord with multiple age demographics: adults who know him from The West Wing as well as twenty-something consumers who know him from Parks and Recreation.
  • Rob Lowe’s image has mostly recovered from his 1988 sex tape scandal and his recent roles on television, particularly his portrayal of Chris Traeger on Parks and Recreation, are positive and upbeat.
  • The ad series is unique, entertaining and engages consumers.


The Negatives
  • Comedy often lends itself to controversy and Rob Lowe’s performance in this advertising campaign is no exception. The ads are currently under fire by the International Paruresis Association for the scene in which Painfully Awkward Rob Lowe refuses to use the bathroom in public.
  • The ads have also been attacked online as “mean-spirited” and “offensive”.  Consumers who are offended won’t be engaged and interested in DIRECTV. On the other hand, controversy also gets consumers talking about both the brand and the product, and some would argue that any publicity is good publicity.
  • Consumers who aren’t fans of Rob Lowe will be immediately turned off by DIRECTV’s new campaign. Choosing any individual celebrity lends itself to this issue - consumers who aren’t fans of the celebrity in question won’t be engaged with the advertising.
  • This particular ad series also has a polarizing effect: some viewers like it and find it funny and memorable, others are turned off and uninterested.


Who Might Be Better?

Jason Segel

Jason Segel’s role on How I Met Your Mother has positioned him as a likeable comedic presence both on and off screen. His public image is positive, he’s more well-known than Lowe, and he’s a part of the group of comedic actors that Judd Apatow often casts in his very successful films. Additionally, Jason Segel is particularly valuable because he appeals to both male and female consumers. His roles in movies like Forgetting Sarah Marshall showcase his talent for playing nerdy and sensitive characters that are both funny and endearing without being offensive. He also appeals to a younger demographic than Lowe, but not so young that he’s reaching consumers without the money or interest to buy DIRECTV services.

Will Forte

Will Forte is another offbeat comedy star who would bring a unique presence to a television ad campaign. His performances on Saturday Night Live, Nebraska, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and MacGruber showcase his eclectic talents and he often stands out from the pack without being offensive. He is less well-known than Rob Lowe, but this may be a positive because lesser known celebrities tend to participate in ad campaigns for lower price tags. He’s a great example of a person who could potentially create both cost-effective and engaging content.

Jason Bateman

Jason Bateman is consistently entertaining and he often plays the more “buttoned-up” characters in the movies and TV shows he stars in.

For example, his portrayal of Michael Bluth on Arrested Development showcases his ability to react to the absurd in a memorable way. This ability could translate to engaging content in an advertising campaign. His past struggles with drugs and alcohol have been largely resolved and most people know him for his current work in Horrible Bosses and the upcoming Horrible Bosses 2.

Vince Vaughn

Vince Vaughn is an A-list actor and his credits include Dodgeball, Wedding Crashers, The Break Up and most recently The Internship and the upcoming True Detective. His roles are consistently “slobbish” yet likeable and this human element would bring a unique twist to an ad campaign. Vince Vaughn could easily use the “slobbish” element of his characters to create the same juxtaposition that Rob Lowe showcases with the less appealing versions of himself without being offensive. Vaughn’s personal life is relatively quiet at the moment, with the exception of his Libertarian political views. This doesn’t necessarily present a problem because many celebrities are activists for political causes and Vaughn is not over-zealous in his support.


Who Might Be Less Compelling?

Russell Brand

Russell Brand has a successful box office track record and a loyal fan base, only made larger by his marriage to and subsequent divorce from Katy Perry.

However, Russell Brand is the king of mean-spirited humor and his talk show, television and film roles are consistently controversial. Russell Brand has also proven himself to be a loose cannon in public settings; he’s been kicked out of a number of award shows and sponsored events for being disrespectful to the sponsor or saying something a little too offbeat. The most recent incidents include his removal from the GQ awards and the Fox News headquarters in New York City.

John Krasinski

John Krasinski has a positive image (he’s garnered quite a bit of good favor from his portrayal of Jim on The Office) and his personal life tends not to be sordid. Unfortunately, he’s already the voice of Esurance, and has appeared in a few ads for them as well. It’s best for celebrity endorsements to happen “one at a time” so consumers don’t feel that the celebrity will endorse just anything.

Andy Samberg

Andy Samberg has a quirky comedic presence and a large and loyal fan base. Consumers first met Samberg in the immensely popular The Lonely Island videos and know him from his current show Brooklyn Nine Nine. However, Samberg’s demographic is younger than Lowe’s, so he may not target the consumer that DIRECTV is after. For example, The Lonely Island videos were and still are popular among college students and consumers in their early twenties, but often do not appeal to housewives and adults with the income to purchase DIRECTV services.

Jason Sudeikis

Jason Sudeikis has a mostly positive public image and has portrayed a number of comedic roles. Unfortunately, Sudeikis is also already taken- he’s currently the sardonic voice of Applebee’s, along with Maribeth Monroe of Workaholics. Again, it’s best for celebrity endorsements to happen “one at a time” so consumers don’t feel that the celebrity will endorse just anything.


UPDATE 4/8/15

The campaign has been such a major success in converting cable customers, that Comcast filed against DirecTV with the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau (NAD).  The NAD then recommended that DirecTV discontinue or modify ads in the campaign featuring Rob Lowe and his alter-egos, on the basis of perception of unsupported claims they make about the company’s services.  DirecTV is appealing the recommendation and stated that the campaign has been “extremely successful for the brand.”


Do You Want More Information? 

If you liked this blog, check out our blog posts about what makes a good celebrity endorsement.

Do you agree with our suggestions? Comment below and join the conversation at blog.hollywoodbranded.com.

Before you spend another dollar on traditional advertising, consider how you can leverage the power of celebrities as part of your marketing campaigns. Our video provides answers to combat common advertising challenges marketers face daily!

Learn how entertainment marketing engages consumers
Learn solutions to 5 common advertising challenges