Look, there’s no question that HTC’s in a bit of trouble, and it’s at least partially because of its marketing woes. While HTC just recently posted some weak quarterly financials, rivals like Samsung are flush with cash to pump into their marketing and ad budgets. That said, HTC is looking to make a big a splash as it can, and Bloomberg reports that the Taiwanese OEM has reportedly tapped none other than Robert Downey Jr. for a two year, $12 million smartphone ad campaign.
Yes, really. And to be clear, they’ve reportedly inked a deal to feature RDJ’s likeness, not that of movie alter-egos like Tony Stark/Iron Man (though really, wouldn’t a tie-in like that make more sense?). Bloomberg’s Tim Culpan goes on to note that Downey will get final say over the ad campaign’s creative elements, which seems like it could go either way. He may be a gifted improvisor, but one could argue that the least thing HTC needs right now is yet another voice attempting to steer the company’s message.
After all, HTC spent much of last year looking for a bold thinker to fill its CMO position, and went through two of the them before CEO Peter Chou decided to appoint someone from outside the company. That someone was Benjamin Ho who served as (among other things) CMO for Motorola’s Asia Pacific operations. Since he officially took over the job, he’s been talking up how HTC’s “quietly brilliant” days are over, noting to the Wall Street Journal back in March that a punchier approach was needed to stand out in a crowded sea of competitors and that the company planned to double its global marketing budget to do it. Naturally, HTC has never provided a hard number — last year the company said it spent a mere 1/6th of what Samsung does on marketing — so it’s tough to gauge just how much this $12 million deal could hurt if it flops. Here’s hoping RDJ doesn’t get embroiled in any new scandals any time soon.