Who can say no to Robert Downey, Jr.?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| April 9, 2014

Throughout 2011 and 2012, HTC was going through a bit of a rough patch. Any time the company was brought up in conversation, there was usually a negative tone along with it. The outlook was dreary, and there were a lot of people who expected HTC to just fold up and disappear, or at the very least just keep slipping further away from the public's eye. They just couldn't seem to find a steady foothold, and since we're all doom and gloom in this industry, any kind of turn-around seemed to be a long shot.

And then they released the One, a device that a lot of people considered the best phone of the year -- even before all the other phones were released. It continued to hold that title, though, with its distinguished design, beautiful display, and high-end internal specifications. The One was the jewel of the ball, and HTC developed quite a bit of momentum last year with just a single device.

In August of 2013, HTC announced that they were bringing on actor Robert Downey, Jr. to stand on the frontline of their marketing push, not just for the One (and, by then, its sister devices), but for the entire company. HTC called it its "Change" initiative, and the results were a little bit all over the place. A lot of the commercials made jokes about what "HTC" stood for, with a lot of props and set pieces, but the devices played a very small role.

In reality, HTC probably did exactly what they wanted to with those commercials, especially with their placement at the end of the year. The One was already a well-known device, with wide-spread availability. At that point, they were aiming to get the HTC name and brand out there again, to turn it into a household name again, and by extension giving a bit more eyes on the devices they were selling at the time.

Of course, when you're trying to sell devices, showing the device is always the better (best) move.

Now that the One M8 is here, and HTC has improved on the original One in a lot of different ways, the first step of HTC's continued rise seems to be a successful one. As HTC confirmed at the beginning of 2014, their goal for the year (and beyond) was to put a bigger effort on the original One's successor, a wearable that would see release later in the year, and marketing. It's good to have a plan, right?

Well, here we are, a day after the first promotional piece for the One M8 featuring Robert Downey, Jr. has been released onto the world. (HTC has already released an ad for the One M8 with Gary Oldman, and it's certainly unique.) The ad with Downey, Jr. may not be as odd as the Oldman piece, but they do share one thing in common: It's more about the actors, and the fact they're talking about HTC's product, than the product itself.

As soon as Robert Downey, Jr. was done telling me that I should go buy one, and letting me see the screen for a few seconds, I couldn't help but ask, to myself, "Who says no to Robert Downey, Jr.?" Yeah, it was a joke, but maybe it will work for HTC. 

The truth is, HTC seriously needs to look at Apple's and Samsung's advertising for their flagship devices and take some notes. More than that, though, they need to execute on those notes and create some commercials, some real marketing, that show off the phone, its features, and show potential consumers why they should buy it on the device's strengths -- not a famous actor's.

This is just the beginning of a whole push for new marketing, so there's obviously a chance that HTC will create some ads for the One M8 that really showcase the phone, and nothing else. We'll just have to wait and see how determined HTC is in selling the One M8, because marketing plays a huge role in this. HTC does have momentum working for them, so let's see how they do. I believe they deserve to have things turn around, but it can't just be given to them. It'll take a lot of work.

What do you think of HTC's advertising so far, even back into late 2013? Do you think it's working, or even effective? Or should they start creating ads that put a bit more focus on the device? Let me know!

Products mentioned