"Iron Man" can save a lot of things, but I don't think HTC is one of themAnna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
When it comes to the entertainment industry, over the past several years we've seen an emphasis and a strong interest in "superheroes". We've seen popular characters from old comic books like Spiderman, Batman, Captain America, The Hulk, and Iron Man adapted to become featured in live-action films. Time and time again these characters appear on the big screen to save the day, in one way or another. In recent news according to Bloomberg, HTC, a struggling manufacturer in the mobile industry, is planning to hire one of the actors that is most recently known for playing Iron Man: Robert Downey Jr.
HTC hasn't officially commented on the celebrity endorsement, which is said to be costing HTC around $12 million for the two-year global marketing campaign, but Bloomberg used two people who know about the company's plans as their citation. Assuming it's true, I have to admit, I don't think that this will necessarily do HTC any significant favors in the long run.
It's been reported that Robert Downey Jr. will be endorsing HTC's products as himself, not as his on-screen counterparts. This aspect of the business strategy is good, considering that not everybody necessarily sees Robert Downey Jr. as "Iron Man"; he's played several important roles in TV and movies, so limiting the endorsements by one of his many characters would only be limiting whatever potential that he could bring in for the company.
Despite all of that, though, I feel as if HTC could have spent their new marketing budget a little more wisely. Just last year HTC had a marketing budget of only $1 million, which may sound like a lot to you and me until you consider the fact that Samsung dedicated $10 million to their marketing budget. This year, HTC surpassed Samsung's marketing budget by $2 million, but is banking their success on one person. Although I'm sure this budget includes more publicity (commercials, billboards, Internet ads, etc.) HTC needs to put the focus back on their phones, not on a celebrity they paid for to endorse them.
I'm no marketing guru by any means, but as a run-of-the-mill customer I have always found it more humbling when celebrities endorse phones they like simply because they like them. For example, back in 2011 Katy Perry tweeted that after she switched from her beloved BlackBerry to an iPhone 4S, she didn't dig the loss of physical buttons and returned to her BlackBerry. Whether she was paid to say that or not, I have no idea. But if she was, it was a brilliant side-marketing campaign for BlackBerry through a simple celebrity tweet. And what about the iPhone? The popular Apple device is still frequently seen in the hands of celebrities on and off screen, and I'm sure they're not paying every single one of them to flash that darling Apple sign once in a while during events and galas. And if they are, well, that's just another sign of good, subtle marketing. It's not all "in your face" about it; they just walk around and carry the phone because they like it.
HTC has had a pretty great run with the HTC One so far; I think a lot of people were surprised at how much they liked the device, given HTC's dry spell for a couple years running at this point. But that's just one phone; we still need to see more from HTC that proves to us that the One doesn't stand for "One Hit Wonder". In my opinion HTC is doing a good job of staying away from incessantly throwing an influx amount of devices at us like Samsung has, but at the same time I think they're really jumping the gun (in the wrong direction) by spending so much on a celebrity endorsement. I mean, I could be way off about this, but I seriously doubt that Robert Downey Jr. will be able to save HTC if they can't keep a constant flow of impressive products over the next couple of years. I think that's what HTC needs to focus on in order to build itself back up from the ladder they fell from.
Readers, what are your thoughts on this marketing move from HTC? Do you think that a celebrity endorsement from the famous Iron Man actor is enough to save them from sinking? Share your thoughts and opinions with me in the comments!