Ambiguous Marketing for the Digital TV Transition

If you watch TV at all, you’ve likely seen a few (hundred) ads for this Digital TV Transition that’s taking place next February. It’s part of $200 million ad campaign to make consumers aware of the switch.

These ads tell you a few things. First, there’s a change happening in February 2009. Second, if you use an antenna, you need to get a converter box. Third, there’s a government coupon program to help you buy a converter box. But it stops there, encouraging consumers to find out the rest of the information on their own; particularly about the price .

This wouldn’t be so terrible, but lately I’ve seen Comcast running with the ambiguity – no doubt trying to reassure their customers, but definitely fishing for new ones too:

This ad tells me, “What do antenna people have to do? NO CLUE! Thank goodness we have Comcast.” Earlier this week while watching Countdown, I saw another Comcast commercial that was even more ominous, declaring that people who use antennas “have some decisions to make.”

I can’t help but wonder if, considering that cable television is paying for the DTV ads, there’s some sort of behind-the-scenes agreement to structure the ads this way given the target audience. The typical consumer still using rabbit ears is probably not very tech savvy; these commercials leave him/her with a scary converter box and how much does that cost and how do I set it up and oh my gosh scary. Or I can get setup with Comcast and they take care of it for me.

Whereas, in reality, it’s immensely cheaper to get a converter box. According to the DTV2009 website , they only run $50 – $70. And the coupon that you get? It’s for $40. Also, you can get up to two per household. So, potentially, it’s free.

I applaud Best Buy for trying to dispel some of the confusion with . But I think more people need to be talking about how inexpensive and easy it is to upgrade to a converter box, so people aren’t unnecessarily lured in by Comcast when they don’t need to be.

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