HTC Chief Marketing Officer: “Pretty confident” about 2014


This week in an interview, HTC CMO, Benjamin Ho, acknowledged his company’s anemic earnings for the first quarter of 2014, but is not overly concerned, “I wouldn’t be too concerned about our business based on the few…months. I rather take a longer term perspective.”

He noted for those that look at quarterly performance that the company was going to have a great current quarter thanks to the new HTC One (M8). He reminds us that last year’s HTC One outsold the One X despite supplier problems the company was dealing with.

That is, more or less, standard executive speak when cheering on the brand he or she represents. What is more intriguing is HTC’s odd marketing campaign which features Robert Downey, Jr. Surely there is something more in store than just plays on an acronym for HTC (Hold This Cat, Hipster Troll Carwash), right?

“Instead of the traditional way of building our brand gradually and slowly, and because the smartphone category is moving too fast, we thought we needed some steroids in the market to create a higher brand awareness for us. And that has actually worked,” according to Ho. We will take him at his word, but that is a pretty strange investment if it is not aimed at boosting sales.

“We're very careful with RDJ -- it's not just a matter of him holding our phones in public, we don't want him to just hold our phones and say this is the best. He has been using our phone and he's contracted to use it.” Ho continues, “The whole intent is to create 'talkability' for us, and we did achieve that objective. There was a lot of buzz for us after we launched the campaign.” We agree, though HTC has been pretty much missing in action since then, and frankly, we are not feeling much of a push even in the wake of the high-profile announcement of the new HTC One (M8).

We will see if this strategy of drawing customers to HTC, versus HTC doing its own proactive campaign (where it would be outspent by Samsung and Apple by a factor of 10 or 20 times), will work. While the reviews of the new HTC One (M8) have been almost universally positive, asking people to “look for reviews” per se, versus trumpeting the news, is a risky move exposure-wise.

Mr. Ho did confirm that a new tablet and smartwatch are on the way, but the company wants to do it right rather than do it fast, “Sometimes, being first in the market has got its advantages. But in terms of new categories, it's also good to observe what's going on before we really serve the market with products and services. Otherwise you'll just become a [‘me too,’] and I don't think that's HTC.”

source: CNET
photo credit (main image): CNET (taken with HTC One M8)

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