Downey to promote HTC?
HTC has enlisted actor Robert Downey Jr for a two-year global marketing deal worth about US$12 million (S$15 million) to promote the Taiwanese company's smartphone brand, according to two people with knowledge of the plans.
Downey will feature in the campaign as himself, not the characters he plays in movies including Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes, and will have final say over creative elements, the sources said, declining to be named.
The maker of the slim, metal HTC One handset will likely feature Downey in television, print and billboard ads, they said.
HTC, once the top-selling smartphone vendor in the United States, has faced a plunge in market share amid product missteps and stiffer competition from Samsung Electronics, which spends about 10 times as much on marketing.
Hiring one of Hollywood's top celebrities is part of its attempt to remain relevant among consumers after dropping to ninth place in global smartphone shipments, as Huawei Technologies and ZTE climbed, according to research firm IDC.
"We have nothing to announce today on a new marketing campaign," Ms Sally Julien, a spokesman for HTC, wrote in an e-mail message.
The HTC One smartphone's "all-metal design has drawn overwhelmingly positive feedback from media and consumers alike. Anyone with a penchant for metal should be able to appreciate its appeal", said Ms Julien.
Mr Alan Nierob, a spokesman for Downey, declined to comment.
In addition to HTC posting its slimmest profit on record last quarter, sales are down 68 per cent and its global smartphone-market share is off 76 per cent since a peak in the third quarter of 2011, according to data.
The company needs to make some bold moves if it wants to regain top of mind among brand-conscious buyers.
In fact, "bold" is exactly the term used by HTC's third marketing chief in two years.
Mr Ben Ho, who started the job in January, has dumped "quietly brilliant" as a motto and vowed to dispense with the underdog status his company has worn on its sleeve since it was founded.
"We're not going to hide our brand anymore," Mr Ho said earlier this month. "We're going to be bolder with marketing."