Small Town Renames Itself For 10 Years of Free TV Service


DISH is a small town in Texas that agreed to change its name for 10 years of free satellite television service. This agreement was part of the DISH City Makeover and Better TV for All marketing campaigns.Free TV ServiceDISH Network

EchoStar Communications was one of the original satellite television providers in the United States, and it had begun using the DISH Network brand as early as 1996. In 2008, Dish Network became its own corporation, and the technology arm of the company was spun off as EchoStar. While DISH would never be as large as DirecTV became, it still has about 14 million subscribers. In addition, in 2019, it acquired Boost Mobile as part of the Sprint and T-Mobile merger, and the federal government signed off on that merger with the stipulation that DISH would have a 5G network in place by 2023.

Better TV for All

It is 2005, and competitor DirecTV is just crushing it thanks in large part to its NFL deal. Michael Neuman was the president of DISH back then, and he believed that the company needed a new approach to marketing. The marketing team eventually came up with the concept of Better TV for All. This campaign did not target DirecTV customers but rather households who did not have satellite TV and may be convinced to switch over from their cable providers. It came with a low introductory price and a promise to pay for any early termination fees, and it emphasized how satellite TV was the better value.

DISH City Makeover

But Neuman wanted to get the word out there beyond just the traditional marketing channels that the company had been using. This is where the concept of DISH City Makeover came in. The plan was to get a city to change its name to DISH, and this would lead to a lot of free advertising. It worked and probably better than Neuman had ever dreamed. The name change became a global sensation.

DISH Texas

DISH was formerly known as Clark, and it is an itty-bitty city just north of Forth Worth. It had only 100 residents at the time the agreement was made. Although dozens and perhaps hundreds of cities had applied, most of those deals had fallen through because their respective councils could not come to an agreement. Clark had just a single mayor with a great deal of relative power. With the deal, every existing residence in DISH got free standard installation of DISH TV, a digital video recorder, a satellite TV receiver and 10 years of what was then called America’s Top 60 programming for free.

Fast Forward 15 Years

DISH City Makeover was a great success. It remains one of DISH Network’s most successful marketing campaigns in terms of coverage and what it cost them. But there was the potential for negative press, and while DISH is fortunate that it never reflected on them, it is likely the reason Dish Network never mentions DISH or recognizes it anyway.

It begins with a feud between the man the town was named for—L.E. Clark who owns and operates a small local airport—and Mitch Merritt, a local property owner. Merritt would eventually wrest the mayorship away from Clark, and after he did, he made the agreement with DISH in order to get back at Clark for not making a zoning change that he had wanted years earlier.

It gets worse than that. At the same time the town changed its name, it made a deal with energy companies to begin digging for natural gas. Some residents started to fall quite ill and even had to move out of the area. Whether or not the locals are being poisoned as a byproduct of the drilling is still a point of contention in the city and a potential problem that is still being evaluated.

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