HTC promises "swag" in exchange for positive U11 publicity to VIP community members (Update)

Update 1: HTC sent us a response clarifying some points in this article. In short, HTC elevate is a community dedicated to HTC's biggest fans. The HTC spokesperson we talked to says: "No one in HTC Elevate is paid anything and only receives the same small bits of swag we already send to the community on a regular basis. No one is forced to say anything they don't believe." Or in other words, while HTC does send gifts to members of the community, these are not specifically given out as an incentive for them to astroturf.

Also, HTC made sure to reiterate a point found inside the elevate post: that it wants to specifically combat negativity from people who have never actually used the phone. While this is a bit of a tall order, considering this is the internet we're talking about, it makes sense for a company that has suffered a reputation slump in the past few years.

Update 2: We've received a screenshot of the updated post (embedded above), which says the company has stopped sending out items in return for positive comments altogether. The original article can be found in its unedited form below.

Say you're a phone manufacturer in pretty bad financial trouble, but you've just released a flagship which desperately needs promoting. What do you do – do you produce an expensive, risky marketing campaign, or do you simply get your community to do it for you on the cheap? Well if you're HTC, it's the latter, it seems: a recent post to HTC elevate, an official, invite-only community for HTC fans, calls on its members to defend the U11 in comment sections and on social media, in exchange for "swag".

Or in other words, astroturfing. From Wikipedia:

The image (as seen on the top of the article) originates from a reddit thread, meaning you should technically take it with a grain of salt – though HTC is no stranger to alternative forms of marketing:

HTC's Sense Home has been known to occasionally push ads to its users via notifications (as well as through BlinkFeed), with the most recent example being advertising the U11 to One M8 users in Australia (see image on the right).

But as for this particular post: it's got some pretty interesting wording, to say the least. It urges the community to "mobilize and combat" negative press and "post regularly". And in exchange, the poster promises: "I'll send some swag goodies here and there!"

This doesn't seem to be a new development, however: one of the bullet points on HTC elevate's website clearly states the service offers "opportunities to partner with HTC and shape the future of the brand", meaning this isn't just an idea the company is testing out, but rather one of the community's intended purposes.

But while we could keep bashing on HTC for a while, it's worth noting that they are far from an exception: back in 2013, Samsung was fined by Taiwan's FTC for doing a suspiciously similar thing. A couple of differences, though: firstly, Samsung was actively paying people to post online, whereas HTC is only suggesting it may send gifts; and secondly, while HTC is using astroturfing to promote its new flagship, Samsung's campaign was, ironically, a defamatory one against HTC.

source: reddit (1, 2), HTC elevate

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1. Myphoneisonfire

Posts: 403; Member since: Sep 05, 2016

Still wont sell and will be a flop. HTC U11 ... DOA ...sorry DBA

8. Myphoneisonfire

Posts: 403; Member since: Sep 05, 2016

Actually here , HTC has resorted to paying people for positive comments of the crap on U 11 . They have definitely become the begging bowl of smartphone companies.

9. piyath

Posts: 2445; Member since: Mar 23, 2012

Then I wonder why S8 gets so many positive reviews and comments even though it's a far far worse crap than HTC U11.... It's all about money. Everyone, rich and poor will flock around the high class marketing campaigns and flashy vibes but no one will care about the actual product it self.

12. maherk

Posts: 6750; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

The obsessed troll as back at doing what he does best, bring the S8 into every article and cry about how terrible it is.

47. illregal

Posts: 20; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

I mean.. it is pretty bad.

13. Myphoneisonfire

Posts: 403; Member since: Sep 05, 2016

Poo Poo Pooyath..... Don't cry over the S8 , its just a phone. 2022 youll be able to get it. Don't cry poo poo.

14. Myphoneisonfire

Posts: 403; Member since: Sep 05, 2016

Pooyath is the perfect example of the HTC's begging bowl marketeer. Poo poo , HTC won't give you a free phone poo poo. Go to Htc store and present them your "strong positive marketing" Ask them for a free U11 in return. . All you'll hear is "BOOM SOUND". The sound of them giving you a solid kick on your A*s.

18. maherk

Posts: 6750; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Dang, I hope he recovers quickly after reading your comment, I don't want to miss his funny comments.

49. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Maybe he doesn't follow the articles he comment on, as he never replies, that's why you have to do a preemptive strike before he comments in an article.

50. Myphoneisonfire

Posts: 403; Member since: Sep 05, 2016

Actually he does read the replies. He is always at a loss of words. What is hr gonna reply?

51. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

How do you know? If he does, at least he's not like Mxy, mxy still replies after being owned hard by multiple people at the same time.

21. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3094; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

Spoken and up voted yourself like a true retard. Get lost.

24. Myphoneisonfire

Posts: 403; Member since: Sep 05, 2016

Hello "Sh1t". Your surname is nice.

26. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3094; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

Don't forget to up vote yourself moron.

28. Myphoneisonfire

Posts: 403; Member since: Sep 05, 2016

Definitely Mr Sh1t . Nice family name though. Must've been passed on through the generations with great pride !

45. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3094; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

Trash will always be trash. Stupid dumbass.

46. Myphoneisonfire

Posts: 403; Member since: Sep 05, 2016

Exactly my thoughts about you and HTC.

27. Hyperreal

Posts: 361; Member since: Oct 08, 2013

S8 is not crap but U11 is not also crap. There is just too much hate for HTC. Articles that you read here on PA are like: "HTC dead on arrival". Did anybody write such negative things lets say about Huawei P10 plus? about Xiaomi mi6? Sony? No. But HTC? Yes, lets bash it like usually. Does P10 have super wide display with small bezels? No. Actaully only S8 ang G6 have. All other flagships have traditional bezels. But only HTC is the company that everybody sh*ts on. I dont think that 649 $ or even 599 $ with discount is a bad deal for that phone.

32. you_sukk_it

Posts: 219; Member since: Apr 11, 2017

this is the most pathetic thing ive seen from a mfr. begging others to defend them for some swag goodies "here and there" which actually promises nothing. here an there may be a cable charger after a year, who the hell know. pathetic HTC!! youre a liar anyway. dont think people forgot the class act lawsuit that was against you for selling crippled tytn II and other phone with no gpu driver and your pos 4mp camera with purple color cast with that garbage ultrapixel PR garbage. my moto x style with 21mp does better low light photos, so youre pos liars and I pray you go bankrupt. but this is nothing new. there are tons here who work/associate with mfr and defend gear. a lot of oneplus agents here. a lot. I caught one that works for nikon in the blogs and I pointed him. everyone knows him as a nikon agent.

34. you_sukk_it

Posts: 219; Member since: Apr 11, 2017

Video driver issues wikipedia. org/wiki/HTC_TyTN_II

54. LionStone

Posts: 1048; Member since: Dec 10, 2010

hah, what a whiner...

38. TobbeDroider

Posts: 4; Member since: Feb 16, 2013

Nobody got paid anything. it wasn't about "Positive comments". it was be a sane voice in the "but I HATE HTC". To those that had actually tested the phone. Not just the positives as well. Not a paid "campaign". One little activity. In rather small scale.

39. Myphoneisonfire

Posts: 403; Member since: Sep 05, 2016,HTC-One-A9/phones/10480,9733 Check this , you'll actually be able to see the laziness in design by HTC. Click side by side.

2. notfair

Posts: 711; Member since: Jan 30, 2017

Still nobody cares what you say. Oops, I gave myself away for swag... Damn.

3. Gadgetex

Posts: 193; Member since: Nov 10, 2013

Yeah, still will not sell well. Comes built in with Facebook app which is like Spyware that can not be uninstalled. At most disabled which is useless as it still runs in background which is why there is no uninstall option. Poor HTC is desperate for money from Facebook so they complied and installed Facebook in all their devices with no Uninstall option so they lost my business and many others that I know of.

20. waazzupppl

Posts: 4; Member since: May 16, 2017

For the record - you can completely uninstall the FB App, no issues at all.

4. maherk

Posts: 6750; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

I swear I smelled something fishy in the last HTC U11's article on here. Comments were posted from accounts I have never seen on this site, and any positive comment received tens of upvotes. Go back to that article and you'll get what I'm talking about.

11. maherk

Posts: 6750; Member since: Feb 10, 2012 This is the article I'm talking about, bunch of fresh accounts, and plenty of old accounts that has been put back to use recently. I'm not saying all of them are those working with HTC, but again, for the type of comments, and the ratio of upvotes compared to the comments, something smelt fishy to me.

19. Guaire

Posts: 870; Member since: Oct 15, 2014

22. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3094; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

I don't know Maher seems to me like a regular comment section day in PA. I mean it's the racist guy and hyperreal and Trojan_horse. Nothing fishy here.

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