HTC Spends Big with Robert Downey Jr. Ads
By Jennifer LeClaire / CIO Today. Updated August 12, 2013.
Mobile device maker HTC is spending big bucks to advertise its smartphones. The Taiwanese firm is investing in a creative campaign featuring Iron Man's Robert Downey Jr., shot on location in Miami.
The new campaign will span digital, social and PR with Downey who signed a two-year deal with HTC, acting as an instigator of change. The company said the ads will explore "imaginative HTC word associations." Put another way, the ads will offer fun meanings of the HTC acronym, such as Humongous Tinfoil Catamaran and Hipster Troll Carwash.
"With this campaign, we are affirming what HTC's role is in the mobile market which is to define change and to lead the industry in developing the newest and most innovative technologies," said Ben Ho, CMO of HTC.
What's In an Acronym?
Downey not only stars in the ads, he injected his style into the messaging. He worked closely with the ad agency, WPP Group, to shape the creative direction of the campaign.
The first phase of the campaign offers a playful take on what the HTC brand means to people. The second phase will feature executions of HTC software -- like BlinkFeed, Video Highlights and BoomSound. Other ad spots will focus on how HTC products empower individuals to drive change in their own lives.
HTC also developed what it calls a "randomizer app," to allow people to identify the most outlandish possible interpretations of HTC, building on the variety of permutations first introduced in the campaign. The app will be hosted on HTC.com and promoted via a range of social channels including Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.
Is HTC Wasting Its Money?
We caught up with Roger Entner, a wireless analyst at Recon Analytics, to get his take on the campaign. He told us it's good to see HTC investing in a campaign, but he questions if they need Iron Man to successfully pitch the phones.
"Research shows that a consistent spokesperson helps increase ad memorability by about 10% -- but it can be somebody right off the street rather than a celebrity that may or may not perform or that may have larger than life problems now and then," Entner said.
In short, he doesn't think HTC needs Downey. He figures the money spent on the celebrity could have been better spent buying more air time.
"Two of the best known and most effective spokespeople in the wireless industry were the test man from Verizon and the trench coat guy from Sprint," Entner said. "It's the consistent spokesperson that matters, not the celebrity. But if you want to pay a premium for a celebrity, go for it. You are just wasting your money."