HTC gets - and wastes - Iron Man for an ad

I love HTC. I had a Dream/G1. I had a Nexus One. I'm dumping my Nexus 4 for an HTC One. I'd love them to be a dominant player in the future of Android, because I think they currently make the best product and would drive the best competition for Apple. However, they're struggling, badly, against Samsung right now, and this ad might, in part, exemplify why.

Say what you want about Samsung but they've successfully attacked Apple's brand perception and marketed their way to the top of the Android food chain. HTC hasn't been able to match their money, and hasn't shown signs of matching their savvy. In this case, they have Robert Downey Jr. - sizzling hot from Iron Man and Avengers - and instead of having him conflate Jarvis-style future tech with HTC One-style current phones - making their stuff look cool and compelling - they go straight for branding (good) but end up without any clear consumer call to action (bad). Not only that, the branding they do get is muddied by the way in which they get it.

Contrast this with Apple's celebrity ads to date, both Mac and iPhone/Siri, and while not their best work by any stretch, they absolutely did link the star power to the product.

Hopefully HTC has Downey Jr. for more than one spot, because right now he's just as wasted on them as Jerry Seinfeld was on Microsoft.

Via: Android Central

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

HTC gets - and wastes - Iron Man for an ad


I don't agree, they have a Class A actor, personality, they are making an add for a product, this is just the first part of an add that will probably have part 2, 3 etc. This is the kind of add that draws you in. I like it, I like it because they are not ripping another product to make theirs look more superior. I bet after another month goes by and we see part 2 and 3 this add just might take off. I'm a huge fan of Robert Downey Jr and they couldn't have gotten a better actor to push their product let's see what they can do with him. Just My Opinion.

That commercial leaves me saying "wait, what?" and that is not a good thing. As Rene pointed out there was no clear call to action and that is bad. Sure someone might chuckle at the commercial but then what? They will go about their day having never thought that they should consider a HTC One.

I don't disagree, but I think it's waste to make a setup commercial. Or better phrased, a luxury HTC's position doesn't currently afford them. Also, the reaction Android Central seems to indicate it missed the mark for many.

It's an interesting commercial. I almost really like it. I don't see why they'd waste RDj on it. Anyone would have done, for all they used him for.
I think they could have done so much more, I'm hoping that they will going forward, and that this is just a 'Hey, we've got Robert Downey Jr.' moment, to establish him with their brand... iunno. Still seems like a misstep to me.

But at least they didn't waste their entire commercial talking about another company/product ala. samsung/microsoft.

I'm with you, they wasted him on this one! I was expecting Tony Stark type of tie in's showcasing features of the HTC technology. Instead it's weird troll things washing cars and tin foil boats?!?

The problem with HTC, and I'm sure this ad is trying to address it, is that hardly anyone besides phone enthusiasts has ever heard of them. Ask some nontechie at random what they think about HTC and they're likely to look at you with a blank look on their face. What's that?

What Samsung (which people have heard of) did was brand Galaxy to death and kept at it. Then they attacked Apple with humorous ads and it all just took off for them.

But I agree with Rene. The faster they transition to the easily imagined cool ads involving the One, then it could start paying off. Forget HTC, focus on the brand.

exactly. HTC did phone ads for the One and they all failed. They need brand ads as nobody knows who HTC is. Put it another way; HTC did four commercials within a year of this post. This is the only commercial that is being discussed on this Apple blog site.


I'm going to have to take HTC's side on this one. I think the ad is very intentionally anticipatory and somewhat vague, in the sense that it is meant to leave people questioning (and blogging and commenting get the picture). It seems to toggle between 'it's whatever you want to be' and a hearty pinch of self-effacing humor in a playful way, with a takeaway message (at least as I interpreted it, anyway) of "You don't really know who we are. Yet." Hey, anything is better than another round of bitter Apple-bashing, right? My first smartphone was an EVO 4G, and it was tough as nails with fantastic fit and finish. My brother in law was gracious enough to let me hold his new One for a bit, and it's an outstanding product. Flashing 'HTC' on the screen and showing just another black, rectangular phone in yet another Android commercial hasn't worked for them, and Verizon's ridiculous feet-dragging to announce the One's availability makes me wonder if they're (Verizon, I mean) not sabotaging it by way of pushing closer to the likely new iPhone reveal. If HTC needs to test brand-recognition angles, I say we stop nitpicking.

Rene, man, you know tech but you don't know ads quite as welI. I do -- from the inside. And this ad is great for HTC's branding objectives. Branding is not a luxury you afford or can't afford. It's a necessity. But as with many branding initiatives, it usually leaves some people behind since it is also subjective and not tactical or quantitative.

But what are they branding? My mom, dad, or any other non-tech nerd don't know what the hell HTC is or what they do/make any more after they watch this commercial than they did before they watched it. I barely caught the "Happy Telephone Company" part at the end. R.D Jr. says it too fast. I actually had to watch it twice to see them make "Happy Telephone Company" out of the letters because it flashed too fast. This was way worse than even Windows Phone commercials where they at least showed the phone even though they didn't talk about it much. It reminds me of oil company commercials that talk about how much they do for the environment and other no-one-cares BS. At the end of the day, I pick between 87, 89, or 93 octane but they all suck because my car doesn't run any better and it is expensive as shit! Not making me feel to good there BP and HTC!

They need to show case the phone itself more than just the brand. If they had RDJ using the phone in some way or showcasing what it can do, it would have been way more effective. I used the ONE at best buy for a while and it is a great phone, only phone I considered switching too from the iPhone. (But didn't) HTC really needs to spend more time advertising this phone, I haven't seen or heard an add for this in a long time.

re: "...successfully attacked Apple's brand perception and marketed their way to the top of the Android food chain."

That should be "blatantly copied Apple's hardware and software and destroyed their Android competitors." Cost them less in patent lawsuit penalties than their annual marketing budget. All a cost of doing business, and HTC and LG and many others are dead in the Android world. Good job.

I can see the effort, just not the payoff. And I have a fondness for HTC, my first Android phone was the original Droid Incredible (great phone).

I do agree that I like the fact the ad doesn't go after the competitors to make HTC look better. The problem I find is it lacked vision, it was all over the place and was just doing too many things without anything specific. They have Ironman and whether they couldn't get the license to use him as Ironman or RDJ didn't want to do Ironman because he wanted to break away from it I don't know. I just know there was some real potential of making a really cool ad with him as either Tony Stark or Ironman. They could have had Ironman flying and he talks to Jarvis and asks about upgrading to an HTC Sense interface. Alternately put RDJ in Tony Starksesque style in an Audi R8. He stops gets out and pulls out his HTC One. Fans surround him he stops kneels down with one little boy in an Ironman mask and takes a picture. The commercial cuts to a black screen with the phone still showing the picture of RDJ and the little boy. So you've got a big actor, coupled with a luxury car to link the device as being luxurious. Then you get the cute factor with the kid dressed up as Ironman. I'm just saying they could have done more IMO.

Finally we're on the same page Rene. Such a waste of talent and money. You change brand by showing why the phone is amazing. Apple can be silly and make weird commercials because everyone knows their hardware and knows that it's solid. So many people have no idea who and what HTC is and what they make. Get the phone in front of people.