If you’re watching playoff baseball, you’ve no doubt seen one or both of these Rob Lowe commercials for DirecTV. The concept is simple: Rob Lowe, impeccably dressed and groomed, tells us that the has DirecTV, while a Rob Lowe alter-ego — either “Super Creepy” or “Less Attractive” — has cable.
The ads, by the Grey New York agency, have generated lots of buzz and are admittedly kind of amusing on first blush. But there’s a sinister undercurrent to these ads. Actually, it’s not an undercurrent at all: the basic premise of these ads is overtly classist and uniquely American. And for that reason, they’re likely to be incredibly successful.
"Less Attractive" is the more obvious of the two.
In the spot, Attractive Rob Lowe wears a $3,000 suit, an enormous, well-appointed house (replete with giant flatscreen), a group of well-heeled all-white friends, and DirecTV.
Less Attractive Rob Lowe, however, bears a striking resemblance to Clint Howard, appears to live in a dank apartment, wears ill-fitting cutoffs, and has no friends and cable.
Who wants to be Less Attractive Rob Lowe, right? We ALL want to be the rich, handsome guy with lots of friends. But we’re not. The vast majority of us are Less Attractive, and many of us are even worse off than that.
But as Americans, we have absolutely no concept of class consciousness and believe that we can — nay, deserve to — achieve Attractive status. And to get it, all we need to do is get DirecTV. the spot is effective because it plays on a primal American fear: being poor.
The other spot, while perhaps not as obvious, infuriates me even more. Super Creepy Rob Lowe seems like people I know; guys I’ve worked with, guys who populate my local bars, just regular Joes. I bet Super Creepy Rob Lowe has some amazing stories. I’d much rather spend an evening with Super Creepy Rob Lowe (SCRL) than DirecTV Rob Lowe (DTRL).
There’s also a subtly homophobic moment in “Creepy”; at :07, watch as SCRL touches DTRL on the shoulder, and DTRL stiffens and sits up.
Then SCRL is at the pool with a six-pack watching people swim. We don’t see the objects of his gaze; is he looking at women in the pool, or (gasp!) men? It’s intentionally left ambiguous.
Also, there’s the matter of Regular Rob Lowe being super creepy already. Lots of people who are watching these ads weren’t alive in 1988, when Rob Lowe’s sex-tape scandal happened. Is having sex with two women, one of whom was 16 (Lowe was 24, the other woman was 22), creepy? Is sharing one woman with your buddy (and filming it) creepy? I don’t necessarily think so, but you could make a case that it is, or at least that it’s more creepy than touching another man on the shoulder.
(Lowe was also accused of sexual harassment and other charges by two different nannies. Both cases were settled out of court, I believe. Potentially Super Creepy.)
So, good job, DirecTV and Grey New York. You’ve put together an excellent campaign that plays on our primal fears of being poor or possibly gay. It should be wildly effective and win a ton of awards. America.
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NO HITTERi have to finish what i start
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Kowloon Walled City - Gilead Fest 2014