September 21, 2012. A lifetime ago in the consumer electronics world. Yet, The Solid Signal Blog was there.
It wasn’t an incredibly momentous day, not really. But it was a day I remember. The story back then was still kind of hush-hush. I doubt anyone would mind if I told it today.
On September 21, 2012, DIRECTV officially announced the name “Genie” for its then top-of-the-line DVR. Prior to that it was known by its model number, HR34. That model number was consistent with all the names that had come before, but it wasn’t quite enough.
A few months earlier, DISH had just released its original Hopper DVR. The Hopper had been set to launch under the memorable name of “XiP813” until DISH’s new marketing people got hold of it. That name wasn’t going to sell DVRs, they said. It’s not going to tell people what’s so special about the product.
A new class of DVR
Both Hopper and Genie represented something really different. Instead of having a lot of complicated equipment spread all over the house, you have a central DVR and a bunch of very simple client boxes. From DISH’s point of view, the most important thing was that you could “hop” from room to room and keep watching the same show. From DIRECTV’s point of view, it was all simply magical.
DISH’s ad execs ran with the name “Hopper,” and once that was announced, the DIRECTV marketing machine went full throttle. They developed the term “Genie” and started a series of ads showing what the new system could do.
We rolled out our own advertising back then, and you can see one of the only times the original “Genie” logo was used. That icon with the woman’s face was used for only about a week before it was replaced.
That logo gave way to the “dancing girl” logo which honestly wasn’t well received at all.
Folks at DIRECTV very quickly realized it was better to simply use the word and avoid all the trouble.
Genie? What Genie?
Interestingly enough, except for a short push in late 2012 through mid-2013, the Genie logo wasn’t used, and neither was model Hannah Davis, who appeared in advertising for a short while:
I still find it interesting that the Genie logo, branding, or name has actually never appeared on a single piece of hardware produced by DIRECTV or AT&T. They introduced Genie, but very quickly realized that it wasn’t about the hardware. It was, and always has been, about the service. People aren’t in love with the box in the living room, they’re in love with what it does.