DirecTV’s New Marketing Strategy: A TV Show About Its Customers


You’ve gotta hand it to DirecTV: the satellite provider announced a new show, DirecTV Hometown Heroes, that might take the cake as one of the most clever marketing/programming gimmicks I have ever seen.

The premise of Hometown Heroes is this: host Joan Lunden and her team of correspondents travel the country chronicling DirecTV customers that have made a difference in their community.

The show is part of a larger effort by the satellite provider to “personalize the television experience by seeking out and inviting audience participation,” according to DirecTV. You don’t get much more audience participation than having your audience appear on the show. It should go without saying, but customers of other satellite providers or (shudder) cable need not apply.

Each week the show will profile three people, DirecTV subscribers all, such as Carolyn Blashek, the founder of Operation Gratitude, which provides care packages to soldiers overseas, and Greg Porter, who founded God’s Katrina Kitchen, which provides meals to relief workers and victims of the hurricane.

To be clear, I have nothing but admiration and respect for the people being profiled in this series (at least the ones that have been named so far), I have no doubt that the things they are doing are wonderful for their communities, and they deserve to be profiled.

That having been said, the premise of the program still disturbs me somewhat.

A preview copy of the first episode was heavy on the community service and light on the DirecTV branding. But I was still left wondering:  are these people being honored because they did something wonderful for the community, or because they are DirecTV customers who did something wonderful for the community? It shouldn’t matter, and I hope that if the show continues, everyone who does something good and worthwhile will be profiled, not just the ones who pay the company money every month.

“We consider our customers part of a unique family and this program will give every member of the DirecTV family a chance to connect with each other as well as inspire them to give back to their community and make a difference,” said Eric Shanks, executive VP of DirecTV Entertainment, announcing the show.

Other perks for members of the DirecTV “family,” besides appearing on a TV show: protection plans you didn’t order and a new two year contract you don’t want for daring to switch DVRs.

If you would like to see DirecTV Hometown Heroes, because you enjoy seeing nice people do nice things, it will premiere April 6 at 9 p.m. on Channel 101, only on DirecTV, Obv. 

Any poor saps that have cable can’t see the show, and will almost certainly have no good reason to help their communities.