HTC Breaks Out Of Its Shell

htc/you

Seeking to better compete with high-profile brands like Nokia and Apple, Taiwan-based handset maker HTC Monday unveiled its first global ad campaign. The cross-media effort -- being rolled out in 20 countries, including the U.S., in the coming weeks -- focuses on personalization, carrying the tagline: "You don't need to get a phone. You need a phone that gets you."

Sound familiar? HTC's "You" campaign echoes Yahoo's recently launched "It's You" rebranding push centered on similar themes around empowering end users. A certain online video site was onto this idea a while ago, but that has not stopped others from making "You" a central part of their messaging well into the Web 2.0 era.

Deutsch LA Inc. created HTC's "You" campaign, while London-based creative consultancy FigTree devised the phonemaker's new slogan --"Quietly Brilliant." The latter suggests the less prominent but crucial role the company has played in the launch of smartphones such as Google's first Android-powered phone, the G1 from T-Mobile, the T-Mobile myTouch, and the Hero launched earlier this month by Sprint.

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While HTC has little brand-name recognition in the U.S., that may be starting to change through HTC's collaboration with Google and the spread of Android-based phones. As of the second quarter, HTC ranked fourth among smartphone makers in market share -- behind Nokia, Research in Motion and Apple, according to Gartner. Its share increased to 6%, from 4% a year ago.

Unlike Verizon's Droid ads that openly attack the iPhone, the new HTC campaign more subtly tries to distinguish its phones from the Apple device, which uses a proprietary operating system while its "Sense" mobile software is built on the open Android operating system.

"HTC's whole design philosophy is very personal. They make phones where your experience is completely unique, so we think there is a connection between how people feel about their phones and how HTC makes them," said Eric Hirshberg, co-CEO and chief creative officer, Deutsch LA, in a release announcing the "You" campaign Monday.

The brand push will kick off on TV Oct. 29 with a trio of national spots followed by six others focused on specific products. The 30- and 60-second HTC commercials will air against big events and popular programs including the World Series, NFL games, 30 Rock, NCIS Los Angeles, "Family Guy" and "Saturday Night Live."

The digital effort will total 1.4 billion impressions including roadblocks, sponsorships and custom banner units on sites such as Yahoo, YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, AOL and Amazon.com. To emphasize the personalization idea, the online campaign will feature "smart" banners that feed customized, dynamic copy based on a user's location, time of day and weather.

The ad blitz also calls for more than 400 outdoor digital billboard versions with variable copy based on weather, location, sporting events and other geographic landmarks tied to where the billboards are placed.

Specific U.S. cities targeted for ads include Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Seattle. The campaign will also encompass countries across Europe, the Middle East and Asia spanning the U.K., Spain, Germany, France, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

An HTC spokesperson dismissed the possibility there might be any confusion among consumers with Yahoo's similarly tagged "It's You" ads. "They are both taking very different creative pathways and HTC believes their campaign will speak directly to the consumer about how they interact with and bond with their mobile device," she said.

She added that HTC will take over the Yahoo home page for one day in November, running an ad showing people how to customize their HTC phone using the applications gallery on the left side of the site's revamped home page. Maybe Yahoo and HTC could have saved money and just combined campaigns.

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