New York, NY – April 4, 2017 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Comcast Cable Communications LLC discontinue the claims challenged by DIRECTV LLC, including the express claims: “If it rains or it storms, you might lose TV … no shows tonight” and “When there’s snow or high winds, or even hail … kiss your shows goodbye.”
NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
NAD also considered whether the advertising at issue implied that:
- DIRECTV service is disrupted all or most of the time during rain, snow, high winds and hail
- Weather-related disruptions of DIRECTV’s signal are lengthy, so that a consumer will not be able to watch their shows all night.
The challenger asserted that Comcast’s latest advertising claims grossly exaggerate the degree to which DIRECTV’s satellite signal is interrupted during bad weather and impugned the reliability of DIRECTV. According to the challenger, Comcast’s advertising misleads consumers into believing that with DIRECTV service, weather-related signal disruptions are routine and lengthy, and commonly causes consumers to miss entire evenings of their favorite shows.
NAD, in an earlier case, considered two Comcast commercials that featured claims concerning the reliability of DIRECTV service in bad weather. In that case, NAD found that one commercial conveyed the unsupported message that DIRECTV service did not work if any precipitation was present. NAD recommended that the commercial be discontinued. The second spot featured two farmers who were discussing the weather and television reception. One farmer suggested his friend get Comcast Xfinity, which is “perfect for rainy days.” NAD concluded that the message conveyed by the spot was of the possibility of a weather related service interruption.
In this case, NAD noted, it was undisputed that the commercial at issue conveys a message concerning the impact of weather on DIRECTV satellite service. The key issue is whether the commercial reasonably conveys a message about the likelihood or frequency of signal failure or loss of service in bad weather and, if so, does it convey the message that DIRECTV subscribers always or usually lose service during bad weather.
NAD noted in its decision that neither party presented new evidence about service reliability. However, both parties submitted consumer-perception evidence.
Following its examination of the challenger’s questions and results, NAD determined that the challenger’s survey approach failed to distinguish between respondents who took away the message that DIRECTV customers always or usually lose service during bad weather and those who took away the non-misleading message that consumers might lose service, have the potential for weather-related problems, or that cable is more reliable in bad weather – a material flaw. As for the advertiser’s evidence, NAD determined that the results of its expert study established a consumer confusion rate of anywhere up to 19.7%.
In the absence of any dispositive consumer perception evidence, NAD used its expertise to determine the messages reasonably conveyed.
Here, NAD looked at both the original “Bad Weather” commercial aired by Comcast, and at a second, revised version of the commercial.
The original opened to the tune of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” and featured the lyrics: “If it rains or it storms, you might lose TV … No shows tonight … When there’s snow or high winds, or even hail … Kiss your shows goodbye.”
This disclaimer appeared twice: “Severe weather (heavy rain or snow) may interfere with a satellite signal causing the picture to freeze or pixelate.”
The revised spot, also set to “Time After Time,” displayed an additional super: “Picture outages may not interfere with entire shows or all shows in an evening. The likelihood, frequency, and duration of interference will depend on the storm.”
Following its review, NAD noted that “all discussion of implied claims, consumer perception surveys and disclosures aside, the phrases ‘no shows tonight’ and ‘kiss your shows goodbye,’ are express claims that literally tell the consumer that in bad weather they will not get satellite television service.”
Both the original and revised “Bad Weather” commercials state that “if’ or “when” there is rain, storms, hail or high winds, it is a certainty that consumers will experience “no shows tonight” and can “kiss [their] shows goodbye” – claims that NAD previously found to be unsupported.
NAD recommended that both the original and revised versions of the challenged, “Bad Weather” commercial be discontinued and that, in future advertising, the advertiser avoid any language or imagery of an absolute nature or the implication that service interruption in severe weather is typical or a certainty and will last for entire programs or an evening’s worth of television viewing.
Comcast, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company “agrees to comply with NAD’s recommendations.” While the company took issue with certain of NAD’s finding, Comcast said that it “nevertheless appreciates NAD’s review and analysis and, as a strong supporter of voluntary advertising self-regulation, accepts and agrees to comply with NAD’s recommendations.”
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.