HTC has denied its $1bn campaign featuring Robert Downey Jr is a last throw of the dice for the troubled Taiwanese phone maker, after months of declining sales and profits.
The manufacturer is looking to position itself as a niche player in a bid to halt its financial decline. HTC has already warned it is likely to post a loss for its third quarter trading. Martin Kang, vice president for marketing across Europe, Middle East and Africa, said the company would focus on six core markets in future - the United Kingdom, Germany, United States, Taiwan, China and Australia. Kang said: ‘We are not Apple or Samsung so we can’t spend the same money into all regions.’
He said the company had examined where it had gone wrong during the past few years, when it failed to capitalise on its early reputation as the pioneering Android smartphone maker. He said: ‘One of the reasons we didn’t translate is we didn’t do our job well enough. We were not consistent in our marketing and not agile enough compared to our competitors. As long as we can identify and address the problems, it’s never too late. There’s a space and place for us out there on a global scale.’
As well as the slumping financials, HTC has been hit by a wave of executive departures, including UK head Phil Roberson quitting. When asked if the company was taking a risk in putting Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr at the centre of a brandbuilding campaign that plays on the HTC acronym, Kang said the company had ‘no time’ for gambling. He refused to discuss the specifics of the deal with the actor, but said that it was not a standard celebrity endorsement. Kang said: ‘If he wanted to make money, he would have gone to Samsung. This partnership is based on something different.’
He denied the campaign, part of the company’s $1bn marketing activity during 2013, represented ‘the last throw of the dice’ by the company, citing a recent share buyback programme as a show of good faith by HTC’s management. He said: ‘Why would we sell the company at the lowest selling price ever? There has never been as much confidence in the company.’
Kang said the ‘here’s to change’ strapline hearkens back to the manufacturer’s former reputation as a market innovator. He said: ‘We changed the way people interacted with mobile phones - first with Windows Phone and then with Android. We have always challenged the status quo and are the company that drives change the most. We can say that because we did it - don’t tell me any other company who was there first.’
In future, HTC will concentrate on its core strengths rather than push for market share across myriad regions, said Kang. He said: ‘It’s not a case of comparing ourselves in terms of investment and product portfolio. Our only target is to build the world’s best handheld devices.’
Author: Graeme Neill