William Shatner has appeared in several ads throughout his career, but none sparked a lawsuit like this one.
Back in 2006, William Shatner was in an ad for DirecTV in which he returned to his famous character, Captain James T. Kirk. In the advertisement, Shatner is once again aboard the Enterprise during the Star Trek VI: The Undicovered Country movie, and he slides a couple of sly comments in to poke fun like when Chekov askes if they should raise the shields. Shatner replies, “again with the shields.” Then he goes on to say he wishes Chekov would just relax and enjoy the amazing clarity of the DirecTV HD that was just hooked up. And that’s where the trouble began.
William Shatner was in his element returning to the role he made famous.
Shatner can joke around with the best of them, and he made this commercial fun, but, according to Whatculture, Time Warner had a problem with two lines, one where Shatner says “settling for cable would be illogical.” Then, after the doors close on the turbolift, and he is no longer onscreen, a blue and white screen takes it places, advertising DirecTV for $39.99 while a voiceover says, “For picture quality that beats cable, you gotta get DirecTV.”
Time Warner didn’t like that DirecTV was saying that their quality was better than cable so they took the company to court, clamining false advertising. Surpisingly, the District Court ruled in Time Waner’s favor, calling the ad a case of literal falsity as DirecTV was claiming that it had better picture quality than anything else that was available. The District Court didn’t see that to be true, and DirecTV had to pull the ad.
Undoubtedly, DirecTV spent a lot of money to get William Shatner to appear as their spokesperson. Not being able to fully utilize the ad had to sting. It’s uncertain whether the ad was retooled and used later.