Tim Nudd explains:
Last October, [DirecTV] had the spot with with Craig T. Nelson and Heather O’Rourke from Poltergeist, which was unfortunate, given that O’Rourke (who played Carol Anne) died tragically in 1988 at age 12. Now, a year later (hey, Halloween’s coming up again), we get this Tommy Boy homage, with Chris Farley and David Spade. Farley, of course, died of a drug overdose in 1997. The whole dead-celebs thing is a gray area in advertising. Sometimes it seems less off-putting than other times. But you know there’s an issue when an ad finishes and you hear audible groans from around the room.