Who is Phil Shifley?
A character created by Grey Group for Direct TV (NASDAQ: DTV), depicted in the latest ad to lampoon the cable industry, goes viral, now with his own Facebook page. Phil Shifley, a fictional consumer is depicted watching a blank TV screen while waiting for the “The Cable Guy”, (a term used in 1996 movie). He looks out his window and sees what he shouldn’t see, taking him down the path to attending his own funeral. This is the latest commercial in a series sanctioned by Direct TV to skewer the Cable Industry for their historical lack of good customer service.
The tag line for Direct TV’s new satellite vs. cable industry ad captivates viewers so well; consumers seem to be mesmerized into watching the spot over and over. Many TV ads are just boring information which tune viewers out within the first ten seconds. “Don’t Attend Your Own Funeral” produced by the Grey Group and deftly constructed by director Tom Kuntz pulls its audience into a virtual horror show for poor Phil Shifley. With a brilliantly creative plot and direction, the commercial is almost like seeing an inevitable award-winning micro-movie in 30 seconds. See (The Spot: Death by Cable Switch today or spiral into misery, self-loathing and despair, Direct TV warns in hilarious ads by Grey)
Direct TV vs. Cable Industry – Truth in Advertising
How successful is the most recent ad by Direct TV vs. the Cable Industry in promoting the actual truth? Well, it seems that cable television as an industry has not received historically great ratings by the consumer in customer satisfaction surveys. As depicted by J. D. Power in its latest survey, released in October 2011, the cable industry did poorly along Direct TV and other telecom providers. The report, Cable and Satellite Television Growth Fueled by Uptick in Market Penetration of DVRs and Other Services indicates cable operators to be lacking in all metrics. This is an old story for cable providers and has been dogging the industry for years. It only adds fuel to the recent ad by its competitor.
Direct TV has its own problems, as depicted by cable industry ads for years; rain-fade. It is still true today when a thunderstorm rolls through Direct TV’s footprint; intermittent outages plague the service for any customer in the middle of their favorite program. This has not changed and cable would be wise to capitalize on a continuing customer service imperfection Direct TV has been unable to eliminate. As Cable TV penetration declines, the satellite provider’s growth is slowing as the market continues to mature. Its primary source of growth now is Latin America. See (Direct TV’s Buyback Plan Pleases Investors as Growth Slows)
Cable Industry Should Fight Perceptions
Fighting a perception of lackluster customer service, especially if it is poor, takes a long-term and protracted approach with a combination of image repair and media promotions. Cable seems to have forgotten those basics, or moved on to the next big technology trend, leaving its customer service image to dangle in a precariously bad place. First, it must fix the fundamental problem in customer service (key metrics), then promote those metrics to consumers via ads that go viral. Maybe they need to use the Grey Group. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a serious initiative to do either.