BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Finds Nothing Spooky about AT&T Services’ Commercial Promoting its DIRECTV Service Following Challenge by Comcast Communications, Inc.

New York, NY – Nov. 28, 2018 – The National Advertising Division has determined that AT&T Services, Inc.’s “Signs” commercial promoting its DirecTV service did not convey any messages that Comcast or cable television service providers (or their customers) are associated with the occult, that consumers should switch to DirecTV because Comcast is an evil or disreputable company, or that Comcast service is inferior to DirecTV. The commercial advertisement was challenged by Comcast Communications, Inc.

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 challenged commercial features a series of short humorous vignettes, using popular tropes depicting various supernatural “signs” telling people that they should quit cable. First, a woman is shown holding up a piece of toast with the words “Quit cable” on it. The next scene depicts a crop circle in a field with the word “Cable” crossed out. The last “sign” depicts a man sitting alone in a convenience store who sees the words “quit cable” appearing on the ceiling above him as a pair of scissors fall to the floor, landing across a coaxial cable, inviting the man to “cut the cord.”  The commercial ends with a promotional offer of a $100 gift card to consumers as an incentive to switch to DirecTV.

Following its review of the advertisement, NAD concluded that it did not reasonably convey the misleading or disparaging message alleged by Comcast, that cable service providers and their customers are associated with the occult. Likewise, NAD determined, the commercial did not convey any messages—monadic or comparative—about the quality of DirecTV service, cable service generally versus Comcast, nor any message about the integrity or character of Comcast or any other cable provider.  In so finding, NAD noted that the commercial does not refer to any feature or attribute of satellite or cable service or to the character of any cable company.

NAD concluded that AT&T’s “Signs” commercial, urging consumers to switch to DirecTV and offering a $100 incentive to do so, is best described as a simple “sales pitch” for DirecTV.

In its advertiser’s statement AT&T stated that it was pleased with NAD’s determination that the “Signs” commercial did not convey any misleading implied messages about Comcast or cable companies and thanked NAD for its review.

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.