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Mobile market's quiet brand breaks global ad drive

LONDON - HTC, the smartphone brand recently overtaken by Apple, is joining the mobile marketing fray with its first major ad campaign, which features the new positioning of 'Quietly brilliant'.

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The previously low-profile Taiwanese company has ramped up its marketing investment in order to widen consumer awareness of its brand beyond early adopters, and is working with UK branding agency Figtree and US ad agency Deutsch.

Its multi-million pound global campaign starts in the UK today and will break in the US on Thursday. HTC's European media agency ZenithOptimedia has booked the ad's first airing in the Liverpool - Manchester United match today on Sky Sports 1.

HTC's best-performing market is Europe and its Google Android-based Hero handset this month beat the iPhone to claim gadget of the year awards from UK tech magazines Stuff and T3.

The company only launched its own brand three years ago, having previously produced handsets for operator brands such as T-Mobile, but its share of the global smartphone market has grown to 6% and its revenues were $4.6 billion last year.

It was the third-largest player in Q2 2008 after Nokia and BlackBerry maker RIM, but a year later has been eclipsed by Apple's rapid growth to a 13.3% share, according to statistics from analysts Gartner.

In March, seeking to better articulate the brand to consumers, HTC's chief marketing officer John Wang hired UK-based branding agency Figtree.

The exercise resulted in the replacement of HTC's existing 'Smart mobility' strapline with 'Quietly brilliant', which Wang says is an external translation of the company's culture of being honest, humble, simple, dynamic and innovative.

Figtree also changed the company's visual branding to highlight simplicity, introducing a doodle design scheme that is carried over into the ad campaign and product packaging.

Deutsch was picked mid-year from a 20-agency longlist to develop the global campaign, which Wang wanted to differentiate HTC from other handset makers' marketing strategies.

"[Their ads] all look the same", he said. "Everyone talks about how great the phone is. It's almost like in my living room I have five friends and every one of them talks about how great they are and everybody is shouting about what they do. If a sixth person enters the living room and also shouts, the shouting actually does not really get you noticed."

Hence 'Quietly brilliant' and the ad campaign's emphasis on how HTC puts the consumer first. The product-specific TV ads, one of which is shot from a 'phone's eye' view, focus on how different people interact with their handsets depending on their emotions and their activities.

The ad finishes: "You don't need to get a phone. You need a phone that gets you ... and you ... and you. And we are HTC."

Poster and print executions all feature the word ‘You' with different HTC handsets standing in as the letter 'o'.

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