HTC has signed up Robert Downey Jr as its global brand ambassador, with the Hollywood actor making his debut in a multimedia campaign breaking this week as the brand moves away from "generic" advertising.
The Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer has confirmed the two-year deal with the actor following a teaser Vine video which appeared on the internet last week that appeared to show Downey Jr alighting from a helicopter.
Martin Kang, HTC’s head of marketing for EMEA, told Marketing that while HTC’s products had historically demonstrated a pioneering ethos that "changed the mobile industry...we’ve not been too good at promoting ourselves and we can’t be allowed to make the same mistakes".
HTC’s advertising has in the past been described as "generic" and Kang agreed with the accusation. He added that Downey Jr was the brand asset that could give HTC cut-through.
The campaign in its current guise will run until the autumn, at which point Kang said "newer products will be embedded" into the creative. He referenced the One Mini and "more products that will round up the One family further on." The creative concept and Downey Jr’s involvement will continue for at least the next two years.
The campaign has been created in conjunction with agency 171. It kicks off on Thursday (15 August) with a two-minute version on YouTube, as well as at cinemas on TV, social and other digital channels.
It features Downey Jr as a high-powered, somewhat bonkers exec coming up with various names using the HTC abbreviation. Concepts such as a "Hipster Troll Carwash", "Hold This Cat" and "Happy Telephone Company" are subsequently realised visually in the ads.
Downey Jr's role as technology-magnate Tony Stark by day and Iron Man by night in three blockbuster movies, has a clear synergy with HTC’s position as a technology manufacturer. The actor also took creative control of the campaign, Kang said.
"It shows how deeply he was involved – he was creative director in a way when it comes to communications," he added.
"Having this kind of asset in Robert Downey Jr means we’re going to fire on all channels – social, TV and digital, with digital the core space."
Kang said that HTC’s global marketing spend will be similar to last year’s $1bn.
In January, HTC parted ways with Mother, the incumbent ad agency on its estimated £100m ad account.
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