Tuesday, November 24, 2015

DirecTV: False Advertising and Negative Claims (2015)

Rob Lowe starring in a DirecTV commercial

DirecTV has made many false claims and advertisements as of recently. These false claims had been made in a recent series of TV commercials that included a character by the name of Rob Lowe. The claims were made to show the superiority of DirecTV over their competition who are the cable TV providers. They have also been accused of false advertisement in a recent package deal that they have made available to their customers. This package deal as well as the commercials attracted the likes of new customers. These customers were in a sense conned, because everything that they expected was not what they got. Many Claims were made in the Rob Lowe commercial series, such as:

  • "With DirecTV you get 99% signal reliability"
  • “With DirecTV you get 1080p picture quality and Dolby 5.1. The industry’s best picture quality and sound” 
  • “Up to 1080p picture quality” 
  • “DirecTV is #1 in customer satisfaction over all cable TV providers” 
  • “DirecTV is ranked higher than cable for over 10 years” 
  • “DirecTV is the undisputed leader in sports which means you can watch all the games you want to” 
  • “When it comes to sports, with DirecTV, you can have them all” 

Most of the claims are considered to be false, this is why the National Advertising Division has had to take action against DirecTV. These claims were to show the superiority over the competitors who provided cable television, the competitor to DirecTV that complained about these claims was Comcast. Comcast took great offense to the commercial series as it also depicted them in a negative light. The commercials showed two versions of Rob Lowe, the Rob Lowe with satellite TV which is the type of provider DirecTV is was the "better" version, and the one with cable TV was the inferior version of himself.
The package deal that DirecTV had also promoted, left out major details to its customers. The Federal Trade Commission came after DirecTV due to this false advertisement. They claimed that DirecTV had, “…deceptively advertising a discounted 12-month programming package because it fails to clearly disclose that the package requires a two-year contract. In addition, DIRECTV does not clearly disclose that the cost of the package will increase by up to $45 more per month in the second year, and that early cancellation fees of up to $480 apply if consumers cancel the package before the end of the two-year period” (FTC). In both situations DirecTV is suckering and conning customers into joining them, only to benefit themselves. 
DirecTV logo


The stakeholders in this situation are the customers who are being conned into signing up with DirecTV, as well as the Marketing Department of DirecTV because they are the ones now facing these issues at a hand.


The main goal in Individualism is to maximize the profits of the owners of the company and the stockholders. Though the main goal is to maximize profits, one must do so while operating within the laws and rules. In this case DirecTV did not operate within the laws and rules, they took illegal actions in order to profit. They did so by false advertisement and false claims. They attempted to maximize profits in the Rob Lowe commercial series by downplaying cable TV providers to show the superiority of Satellite TV. With the package deal, they attempted to bring in new customers by offering a great deal, but left out vital details which in turn made the deal a not so good deal for the customer. In both cases, they attempted to maximize profits in and unlawful way making this unethical.


The happiness of all conscious beings should be maximized according to the theory of utilitarianism. DirecTV didn't take into consideration the impact that these false claims and advertisements would have on the customers. They only cared about their happiness and to achieve that was to gain more customers to gain more profits. In the end the customers were left unhappy because they realized what they were conned into doing. Under utilitarianism these cases are deemed unethical.


The values of Kantianism are: rational decision-making, autonomy of individuals, and honesty and freedom. To be ethical in the Kantian point of view would be to, "always act in way that respect and honor individuals and their choices. Don't lie, cheat, manipulate or harm others to get your way"(salazar). Also, one must make decisions based off of "Good Will". In Both cases DirecTV failed to make decisions according to the principles of Kantianism, deeming them unethical.

Virtue Theory

DirecTV headquarters in El Segundo, CA
To be ethical under Virtue Theory is to completely fulfill all four-virtue characteristics. Those four-virtue characteristics are: Courage, Honesty, Temperance/Self Control, and Justice/Fairness. DirecTV showed courage by taking risks in making false claims and false advertisements, although those risks were not for the right ideas or actions. Honesty was not shown by any means, they lied and manipulated customers into subscribing with the company. Under temperance, DirecTV failed to realize that the expectations and desires were not reasonable. The claims made in the false advertisements were unreasonable. DirecTV was also very unfair to their customers, they hid many vital details from them, which lead to them profiting more from their customers which is extremely unfair. Since these cases failed to meet the expectations under virtue theory, again they are deemed unethical.

Justified Ethics Evaluation

In my opinion, always being ethical in a business environment is extremely important, and in this case I believe that DirecTV doesn't complete grasp the importance of it. They have been charged with similar issues in the past, and don't seem to realize that its time for a change. Although they are extremely successful at what they do, they are shinning a negative light upon them. They are only concerned with the companies interest and not about their customers. Overall under all theories, DirecTV was considered unethical. They need to address the issues that they create for themselves and implement new processes to fix them.


"DirectTV Pulls Rob Lowe Ad Campaign After Complaints of False Claims." PRNewser. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2015.

"FTC Charges DIRECTV with Deceptively Advertising the Cost of Its Satellite Television Service." FTC Charges 

     DIRECTV with Deceptively Advertising the Cost of Its Satellite Television Service. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2015.

"Laughter: It's the Best Medicine, but Not the Cure for False Advertising | Lexology." Laughter: It's the Best Medicine, 
     but Not the Cure for False Advertising. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2015.

"NAD Recommends DirecTV Discontinue Certain Claims in 'Rob Lowe' Ads Following Comcast Challenge; DirecTV to        Appeal." Advertising Self Regulation Council RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2015.

Salazar, Heather. The Ethics Business Case Manual. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
     24 Oct. 2015.

The Satellite Company Advertises a 12-month Plan for as Little as $19.95. "DirecTV Charged with False Advertising." 
     CNNMoney. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2015.

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