NAD Recommends DIRECTV Modify, Discontinue 4K Claims, Pricing Claim, Wireless Claim; Advertiser to Appeal Decision to NARB

New York, NY – Dec. 9, 2015 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that DIRECTV, Inc. modify or discontinue certain advertising claims challenged by Charter Communications, Inc., including pricing claims, wireless claims and claims that suggest that all of DIRECTV’s programming is available via 4K technology. DIRECTV has said it will appeal NAD’s findings to the National Advertising Review Board.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

The challenger took issue with the advertiser’s television advertising campaign, Hannah and Her Horse.  The television commercials feature Hannah Davis, a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, and a “talking” horse walking down a beach.  The commercials made a series of claims about DIRECTV’s services, including:

  • DIRECTV has 4K, the best picture format available.
  • DIRECTV is wireless. So you can put your TVs anywhere without having to look at ugly wires and boxes in every room.
  • Say goodbye to messy cable wires and boxes.
  • Enjoy entertainment wirelessly on every TV in your home.
  • Wirelessly power up to 8 TVs with just one Genie HD DVR and Wireless Genie Minis.
  • DIRECTV customers can get a free Genie HD DVR upgrade.

NAD also considered whether the challenged claims implied that:

  • Most or all of DIRECTV’s programming is available in 4K.
  • Customers can get DIRECTV’s 4K content and wireless service for $19.99/month.
  • DIRECTV has eliminated the need for wires and set top boxes.

In this case, a key issue for NAD was the quantity of DIRECTV content available in 4K. NAD noted in its decision that 4K offers four times the resolution of 1080p, the current standard picture format, and is generally described as providing more realistic color, better sound, and greater detail.

DIRECTV is one of only a few television service providers to offer any programming in 4K and NAD determined that the advertiser should be able to promote this benefit. However, NAD noted, the advertiser offers only a small number of movies in 4K and not general programming.

NAD was concerned that the challenged advertisements could reasonably convey the message that DIRECTV offers a substantial amount of 4K content.

NAD recommended that the advertiser modify its claim to clearly address the developing nature of 4K technology and narrowly tailor the claim by either specifying the number of movies and/or programs provided in 4K or otherwise indicate that only a small amount of programming is currently available in 4K.

Regarding the advertiser’s pricing claims, NAD determined that consumers could take away the message that 4K programming and the wireless service feature are included in the $19.99 price.  NAD recommended that the advertiser modify its pricing claim to clarify that programming packages begin at that price and make clear that the price does not include the advertised 4K or wireless services. NAD further recommended the advertiser discontinue the “free” upgrade claim. NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue its wireless claims or modify them to: (1) specify the actual device that is wireless, not that DIRECTV itself is wireless, (2) clarify that the references are to cable wires and cable boxes, and (3) explain that the company’s Wireless Genie Mini can be hidden behind the TV itself.

DIRECTV, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company “supports self-regulatory process and appreciates NAD’s efforts in reviewing the challenged advertising.  However, DIRECTV disagrees with NAD that the advertising subject to review had the potential to convey any misleading impressions regarding DIRECTV’s service. Accordingly, DIRECTV will be appealing the decision to the NARB.”

Note: A recommendation by NAD to modify or discontinue a claim is not a finding of wrongdoing and an advertiser’s voluntary discontinuance or modification of claims should not be construed as an admission of impropriety. It is the policy of NAD not to endorse any company, product, or service. Decisions finding that advertising claims have been substantiated should not be construed as endorsements.