HTC Goes All-In on 'One' Phone in Battle With Apple, Samsung

Model and Student Jumping From Plane Aren't Actors

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HTC has dropped a photography student and a model out of a plane to demonstrate how it aims to regain momentum in the smartphone market: the HTC One.

With its once-explosive growth slowing in recent quarters, the company is looking to the One line to spur sales. Given stiff competition from Samsung and Apple especially, HTC reported a rough fourth-quarter and provided a similarly dim outlook in February.

The skydiving stunt is documented in new ads from the Taiwanese manufacturer in what VP-Global Marketing Greg Fisher calls its "biggest single campaign by far." From this point on, HTC will put all marketing money into HTC One, Mr. Fisher said.

HTC spent $121 million in U.S. measured media last year, according to Kantar Media. This campaign will launch in the U.S. and then move to 40 other markets, starting with the U.K., next week.

The global campaign, from Mother , London, finds a photography student using an HTC One phone to shoot a fashion model as they're both falling at 126 miles an hour in the Arizona desert. Pictures taken on the phone will run in print ads in U.S. magazines such as Wired, Sports Illustrated, People and Us Weekly.

The company said it is focusing on testimonials from real people. The campaign features two students, both nonactors, selected for their global appeal. Nick Jojola, in the skydiving spot, will be in ads for Europe, the Middle East, Australia and the Americas. The other student's ads will run in Asia-Pacific.

The stakes in smartphone marketing have risen into the strasophere. Apple and Samsung are both top-100 advertisers by spending in the U.S. and globally.

HTC will also soon be up against Nokia and AT&T in the U.S. Nokia and AT&T are preparing a major promotion for the new Lumia 900 Windows Phone. AT&T told CNET the Lumia campaign will be its biggest push behind a handset -- including the iPhone.

Once a nameless manufacturer, HTC introduced its brand to the U.S. two years ago with the "You" campaign from Deutsch, Los Angeles, and has since gained recognition worldwide, thanks to early wagers on Android and aggressive ad spending.

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