Smartphone maker HTC is aiming to revive its flagging fortunes with a brand advertising campaign fronted by Robert Downey Jr – an actor who has gone through his own fair share of ups and downs.
The vendor, whose share price hit an eight-year low in July, is splashing $1bn (£646m) – equal to its entire product marketing budget last year – on its "Here's to change" campaign as it seeks to ruffle Apple and Samsung's feathers.
Launching on Thursday across TV, cinema, print and outdoor media in key markets including the UK, it represents the first time HTC has launched a major brand campaign rather than focusing on its technology.
And judging by this short YouTube clip uploaded today, it will be every bit as off the wall as Cadbury's drumming gorilla and Three's dancing pony, with Downey Jr's marketing exec character suggesting "HTC" could stand for "Humongous Tinfoil Catamaran" in a brainstorming session.
In an interview with Marketing Week, HTC bigwig Martin Kang admitted the smartphone maker had been "too shy" in the past. The new campaign will be as memorable and disruptive as those run by the likes of Apple and Samsung, he said.
He added: "To be bluntly honest, we did not stand for that much in the past... We had great products but we were not really communicating at a brand level – and in some ways we were communicating at a level I did not find at all amusing: like a value-for-money proposition. We are a high-end smartphone brand and that is what we want to stand for."
HTC's chief marketing officer Benjamin Ho said the vendor was not concerned by Downey Jr's past brushes with the law, labelling his journey from drug addict to the world's highest-paid actor an "inspiration".
What's more, Downey, who uses an HTC One model, "doesn't really need the money" – a sign that the Iron Man actor believes in the brand, Ho added, according to Forbes.
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