Can Ironman Revive HTC?

The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that Taiwanese smartphone and tablet manufacturer, HTC, has inked a spokesperson deal with “Ironman” actor, Robert Downey, Jr.  Downey is slated to star in and have creative input in the company’s new marketing campaign, “Here’s To Change,” (H.T.C. – get it?) that rolls out on Aug 15. The campaign is expected to cost nearly $1 billion, with Downey pocketing a cool $12 million.

Once the golden child of creating must-have phones – and the original adopter of the Android platform – HTC took a beating by tech titans Apple and Samsung. The firm is hoping that this push will get consumers talking about their products again. While marketers, bloggers and journos certainly are chatting, it seems like a fairly risky move for a company that recently reported that profits had fallen over 80%.

The three-phase campaign opens with Downey and crew making cheeky references to possible meanings behind, “HTC.” The outbursts run the gamut from “Hold This Cat,” and “Hipster Troll Carwash,” to “Hello, Troubled Corporation.” (Okay, not that last one. That was mine.)

Will it work?

The key to disruptive marketing is knowing how to tap into the mood and wants of the market, and then craft (or re-shape) a clever message that turns convention on its pretty head. In other words: compelling content. Businesses, however, still have to back up content with the kinds of goods and services people want to use.  Nestlé, for example, is desperately trying to revive Hot Pockets, those much-scorned microwavable holdovers from the early 80s. They’re testing new recipes with ingredients like Asiago cheese, hickory-smoked ham and pretzel bread. I love pretzel bread, but I can’t fathom eating a Hot Pocket. Like Nestlé, HTC needs to clear the hurdle of making products consumers not only talk about, but love.

Both Apple and Samsung have gone from adjusting to market demands, to helping shape them. Only time will tell if HTC can make this leap. I’m sure Ben Ho hopes so.

So, marketers… what big gambles have you taken that have paid off? FreshAddress wants to hear from you! Let us know!

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