The Harlan Tourism and Convention Commission is considering action to attempt to have a DIRECTV commercial pulled due to what many consider a derogatory depiction of rural mountain people.
Commission member Roger Fannin told the panel his thoughts on the advertisement.
“I was at home Sunday night watching the football game and all of a sudden I see this commercial,” said Fannin. “I couldn’t really believe I was seeing this. I thought this country — especially our media — had moved beyond this and was out of the dark ages.”
Fannin said the commercial was stereotypical, hateful and degrading to rural people.
“I don’t think this is just a Harlan issue,” said Fannin. “It was just a very hateful and mean spirited commercial.”
Fannin said he had attempted to contact the CEO of DIRECTV, Michael White.
“I think it’s easier to reach the Wizard of Oz than Mr. White,” said Fannin. “There’s no way that you can even get into upper level management.”
Fannin said he spoke with several customer service representatives.
Fannin said he told a company representative the commercial should be pulled and an apology given and was informed this was not going to happen.
“That’s as far as I could go, ” said Fannin. “I think the commercial speaks for itself. It certainly doesn’t make me want to buy DIRECTV, in fact it makes me want to cancel.”
Fannin asked the commission to connect with other tourism organizations and chambers of commerce to attempt to get the commercial pulled.
“An apology is in order,” said Fannin. “This would not happen to other cultures without it being addressed.”
Harlan Mayor Danny Howard pointed out many DIRECTV customers are rural people.
“This thing is misguided,” said Fannin. “There’s not an ounce of me that believes that their (DIRECTV) board of directors and even their CEO would approve this commercial had they seen this.”
Fannin suggested a certified letter be sent to White stating the commission’s position and requesting the commercial be removed from the air and an apology issued.
Tourism Director Brandon Pennington suggested an online petition be started to allow people to show their disapproval of the commercial.
“I have a feeling that a lot of people will jump on board with this,” said Pennington.
Fannin gave the council the phone number he had used to attempt to contact the CEO of DIRECTV so that others could attempt.
Fannin pointed out they are on Pacific time, so calls should be made in the afternoon.
“That number would be 310-964-5000,” said Fannin.
Fannin said the number is to the California office.
Calls to DIRECTV’s public relations department for comment were not returned.
Harlan Daily Enterprise|Civitas Media