HTC One, a.k.a. the Facebook Home phone that's coming to AT&T and other carriers, is just one focus of the company’s impending brand refresh and aggressive marketing campaign to get better market placement against competitors like Samsung.
HTC has been known for good hardware and not-so-good promotion, but squaring off against marketing-savvy Samsung requires the former to up its game. "It's one thing to make a great device—HTC has done that before," Mike Woodward, president of HTC America told the LA Times. "What is a little different this time is the way that we're going to market. We want to really get that down to the streets and get that down to consumers."
HTC had been using “quietly brilliant” as its slogan, but the brand is looking to step out of its shell with a new marketing message that has “bold,” “authentic” and “playful” themes. The new tagline, "Everything Your Phone Isn't," is courting "Generation Feed" (what HTC calls tech-savvy, early-adopters). "Tech millennials are hard to connect with," Erin McGee, HTC North America VP Marketing toldAd Age. "We wanted to create a closer connection by targeting passion points."
In order to create that closer connection, the brand is jumping on pop-up shop bandwagon, opening HTC One showrooms in North American shopping malls to serve as live test sites for the smartphone in a coast-to-coast experiential marketing push—the HTC Experience Tour—to engage consumers on the go. (Take a closer look below)
“HTC One Showrooms are taking the concept of a pop-up store to a whole new level by creating a large, playful, interactive exhibit where we expect people to be entertained and have a new experience with the HTC One on each visit,” McGee said in a statement. “We’ve created a mobility-powered playground for our customers to enjoy, which also benefits our retail partners by sending informed customers to their doors.”
The pop-up shop concept is also being employed by rival Samsung, as the companyrecently announced that it will be opening Samsung Experience Shops inside Best Buy stores.
HTC is also launching the "HTC Live Experience Tour" in tourist locations including Hollywood and Highland in Los Angeles, Wrigley Field in Chicago and Columbus Circle in New York. The tour will feature giant boomboxes enhanced with Beats by Dre and promoted on Pandora, Spotify, YouTube and Vevo.
Cue passion point music—and HTC’s collaboration with Beats and Live Nation to promote HTC One's BoomSound front-facing speaker system, built-in amplifiers and Beats Audio technology. BoomSound is also a concert series, with rapper Pharrell performing in New York City, indie rock band Grouplove performing in Chicago and a third performance to-be-announced in Los Angeles, which will promote the phone's shelf launch.
The brand is riding the coattails of new CMO Benjamin Ho, who told the Wall Street Journal, "We have a lot of innovations but we haven't been loud enough."
However, HTC has been working on its voice. At Samsung's March 14th New York launch event for the Galaxy S4, HTC reps approached waiting press with Pringles and water bottles branded with the HTC One logo. The tweaking didn't stop there, as the brand took to Twitter with an unusually aggressive tone and mocked Samsung's new smartphone with the hashtag #theNextBigFlop, Gizbot.com reports. (HTC wasn't the only brand ambushing Samsung on its big day.)
Now Ho is looking to challenge Samsung and Apple in another space besides hardware as he announced that HTC would increase their digital marketing budget by 250 percent in 2013 as well as their traditional media marketing budget by 100 percent. In 2012, Samsung's marketing budget was a whopping $11.6 billion, over a billion dollars more than what they spent on R&D.
While Samsung is now the largest manufacturer of smartphones, HTC runs on the same leading operating system—Android—which could give it a leg-up on hardware innovator Apple. Besides,bitter rivals Samsung and Apple are busy suing each other over patents, which, if anITC preliminary decision holds up, could bar Samsung from importing products to the US.
Below, a closer look at the HTC One Live experience —