Can Iron Man save a brand? Robert Downey, Jr. tapped for HTC ads.

htc one iron man

Sorry, Dr. Dre: Beats just got the boot when it comes to promoting HTC smartphones. On Monday, the handset maker announced a new brand-awareness campaign starring none other than an Avenger. Robert Downey, Jr. who plays Iron Man on the big screen, will be front and center for two years pitching the benefits of HTC technology, which hasn’t helped the company’s sales of late.

According to the press release, Downey, Jr. isn’t just starring in the videos; he’s played a part in the creative design:

“In addition to starring in the ad, Robert Downey Jr. worked closely with HTC to shape the creative direction, putting change at the core of HTC’s brand by offering a variety of unique interpretations of the HTC acronym. Extending the interpretation to consumers, a word randomizer app hosted on HTC.com allows people to identify the most outlandish possible interpretations of HTC, building on the variety of permutations first introduced in the ad campaign, including “Here’s TChange”.”

Here’s the first teaser video, which offers a glimpse at what HTC could stand for:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/UpGUV6ZrYFw]

The company says it will start the campaign with the “playful” take on what HTC stands for and then change focus to various HTC innovations such as Blinkfeed, BoomSound, and Video Highlights in HTC Sense.

My first thought was that the company skip phase one, but after watching the video, I quickly had second thoughts. HTC has always had a branding challenge in the U.S. market; partially because it was once a behind-the-scenes role as a handset maker that others put their name on. And it simply hasn’t invested enough to get people to understand who it is as a company.

By getting creative with the HTC name in the first act of the campaign, people could start talking about the company, which helps to raise awareness. After that, it’s all about the innovation that HTC can show in its smartphones; something it has done well with the HTC One handset, even if fewer people know about it.

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