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Puppy-Hating Claim Gets DirecTV's Goat

Sometimes, even a marketing message that is clearly hyperbole can draw the ire of competitors in the war for video customers.

Sam Howe, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Time Warner Cable, related at the CTAM Summit '08 in Boston last week that one of the ads TWC created with actor Mike O'Malley (of Yes, Dear) sparked a quick response from DirecTV.

Cable, satellite and telcos monitor each other's ads, challenging the veracity of claims of better technology, more high-definition content and better packaging. But what apparently stuck in the craw of DirecTV's legal team was a “claim” that the satellite-TV provider “hates puppies.”

The ad in question shows actor O'Malley holding a pup. DirecTV hates puppies, he says, and explains why: DirecTV charges extra for high-definition channels. That money could buy a mountain of puppy food. Therefore, DirecTV hates puppies.

“We got a two-page cease-and-desist letter from DirecTV,” Howe told a session on MSO branding, and TWC's legal team “had some fun” responding to the demand. The cabler didn't hear from DirecTV again about that particular claim, he said.

A generic version of the ad is on YouTube.