DirecTV Taps Consumer Ad Agency

Following an intense search process, DirecTV Inc. earlier this month selected Los Angeles-based Deutsch Inc. as its new consumer ad agency.

Deutsch was selected from a short list of three shops that also included D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles and GMO/Hill, Holliday. The direct-broadcast-satellite provider plans to spend at least $65 million on national consumer media next year, plus advertising creative and production costs, said DirecTV senior vice president of marketing Susan Collins said.

Several months ago, DirecTV used an outside consultant to narrow down a list of candidates for the new agency. The DBS company then conducted "what we call a chemistry test" with the agencies' key contacts, Collins said.

The contenders that made the cut provided DirecTV's marketing team with reports on strategy, research and creative work, following guidance on the company's primary competitive challenges.

"The bottom line was, the campaign that Deutsch presented was in line with our brand as it is now and where we want to go with it," Collins said.

Deutsch also took an aggressive stance on the concept of "brand-tailing" in its creative work, she added, which means that the agency plans to drive sales at every consumer touch point, rather than simply reinforcing DirecTV's brand.

The agency's first campaign for DirecTV would break in October and present the DBS provider's holiday promotional offer, Collins said. She declined to state the offer or disclose the creative concept, for competitive reasons.

Deutsch had worked with DirecTV on a project basis, executing its NFL Sunday Ticket television ad campaign. Collins said Deutsch was challenged by the ongoing Screen Actors Guild strike, and that people who appeared in its spots weren't professional actors or sports stars.

Deutsch's first ads as the DirecTV agency of record will likely focus on products available nationwide. This could exclude the new interactive services it plans to launch later this year, such as AOL TV, Wink over DirecTV or the combination DirecTV/TiVo Inc. receiver.

Those services have no stated official introduction dates, said Collins. She also declined to say whether the services would launch nationally or market by market.

Eventually, Deutsch "will be very involved in the strategy of launching those services," Collins said. "We think these new applications and technologies are very important as people look to the television set for more information, for purchasing opportunities and to chat with their buddies about the shows they're watching."

DirecTV subscribers, who are often tech-savvy early adopters, are already interested in the new products. For DirecTV, the new services mean additional revenues and increased "stickiness."