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Paul Golden was also one of the people behind the "fanboys" campaign, now he lends his talents to HTC

HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) made a rather bold move this week, poaching former Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KRX:005930) (KRX:005935) U.S. mobile marketing chief Paul Golden.  Mr. Golden helped round up the talents of 72andSunny, leading to a highly effective series of parodies mocking Apple, Inc. (AAPL) "fanboys", a campaign that emails recently made public in court reveal had Apple's top executives very rattled.

I. Fresh Blood

In his profile on LinkedIn Corp.'s (LNKD) internet resume hub, Mr. Golden cites one of his chief accomplishments during his 2008-2012 stint at Samsung Electronics as: Paul Golden will report directly to HTC chairwoman Cher Wang.  It's unclear how he will share responsibilities with HTC's current chief marketing officer Benjamin Ko.  But it seems obvious HTC needed help.

Paul Golden
Paul Golden, HTC's new marketing advisor [Image Source: Engadget]

Despite having what critics hailed as a superior smartphone (the HTC One) to the Samsung's Galaxy S4, HTC fell short of expectations in sales.  A major part of the problem was being outmarketed by Samsung.  More traditional HTC had preferred a respectful, quiet approach to marketing, as indicated by its slogan "Quietly brilliant."

Galaxy Note
Paul Golden helped pitch and later grow the brand new Galaxy brand, a wild success, while at Samsung. [Image Source: Jason in Hollywood]

Mr. Ho pledged to adopt a more aggressive, belligerent tact (similar to Samsung) and indeed seemed to carry through with that on Twitter and other social media outlets.  But when it came to video ads -- one of the most expensive, yet potentially image-setting mediums, his vision seemed muddled and bizarre.

HTC reportedly paid Robert Downey, Jr. $12M USD to serve as the pitchman, but the ads that came out were rambling and bizarre -- or "high concept" as The Wall Street Journal tastefully puts it.  It was unclear in many of the commercials that HTC was even a smartphone maker.  



Most consisted of actor Robert Downey, Jr. and some ragtag group of friends visualizing or proposing various possibilities for what HTC could stand for.  If anything the ads seemed to trend dangerously close to suggesting to customers that most people had no idea who HTC was, not exactly the image you want to send.
 
II. Still Hope?  HTC Soldiers On
 
Recently, HTC appears to have wrapped up that series of ads, launching a new series of ads with venerable actor Gary Oldman.  These ads were definitely a step in the right direction, but they still failed to really highlight any actual features of HTC's product.





Compare that to successful campaigns by other tech firms (e.g. the Samsung "Fanboys" ads or the Apple's iconic "Get a Mac" campaign), which made the common sense move of highlighting competitive edges (perceived or real) of the advertiser’s products.  One would guess one of Paul Golden's first orders of business would be in trying to send a message that embodies Mr. Ho's promised aggression, while actually explaining why you want an HTC One instead of a Galaxy S5.
 
Bloomberg reports that HTC has yet to enter in a long-term commitment to Paul Golden, for now signing a three-month contract and seeing where things go.
 
However it winds up, the hire is at least a promising sign, a small step in reverse of the larger trend of top talent defecting away from HTC amid pay cuts and other internally unpopular belt trimming efforts.
 
HTC is on the verge of a promising run.  Samsung's Galaxy S5 is an impressive device (including having a markedly improved camera, thanks to the inclusion of the new Isocell tech), but again reviewers seem to be giving a slight edge in appearance and hardware to HTC's second generation One (M8) smartphone.

HTC One M8
The second-generation HTC One (M8) (2014)

Now if it can just find a way to market it, maybe it can halt the runaway decline in profitability that last year drove the company to its first quarterly losses ever.

Sources: Bloomberg, WSJ, Linked In



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Marketing
By Milliamp on 4/19/2014 7:21:23 PM , Rating: 2
They probably paid the guy more than 30 of their best engineers combined too but I agree the marketing examples you gave are pretty garbage.

Instead of telling people "ask the Internet blah blah" they could have used the time to inform users of where they came out ahead and then sent people to go verify their claims as true. They could point to larger screen, better battery life, metal build quality, better low light camera performance etc. Most people also prefer sense over touchwiz.

If you think about it that's really what Samsung was doing with "the next big thing is already here" line of commercials. It was poking fun at people for standing in line for an iPhone with lesser features, it was a small hint of honestly in advertising and it worked.

The "go to the Internet, we'll wait here" missed that mark by more than a little.

If you have the best product on the market and can't figure out how to market it, you need to send the entire marketing team packing.




RE: Marketing
By aurareturn on 4/19/2014 11:55:00 PM , Rating: 2
Marketing executives rarely do anything except hire people, agencies, and report on results.

Most marketing executives just hire agencies to do all the work for them.


RE: Marketing
By NovoRei on 4/21/2014 5:49:53 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe HTC has the impression that their market is not the average Joe and so they don't need to do the "thinking"/comparison in a commercial to the average Joe?

Add to that the "selfie" strategy and you have a market of 13-19 yr old buying a high end +$400 phone. Doesn't make sense unless you call it niche.


RE: Marketing
By Milliamp on 4/22/2014 3:24:40 AM , Rating: 2
"Add to that the "selfie" strategy" like the famous Ellen DeGeneres' Oscar Selfie that Samsung planned? Or Samsung's Obama-Ortiz selfie?

The ship they wish to sail already left the dock flying a Samsung flag. The Ellen one was one of the most re-tweeted photos in twitter history.


grease it up
By Gunbuster on 4/19/2014 2:43:21 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe he can suggest glossy plastic back covers so more phones on the market can be 100% covered in greasy fingerprints.




Could have been better
By Flunk on 4/21/2014 10:48:51 AM , Rating: 2
"high concept" is marketing speak for ineffective artsiness.

Seriously, all they needed was a set of talking to the camera type ads with Robert Downy Junior comparing himself and the stylishness and usefulness of his HTC One. They could have flashy setups and backdrops. Someone ad execs seem to forget than the message is what's important.




HTC should...
By dxf2891 on 4/22/2014 10:03:29 AM , Rating: 2
go for the proverbial kick to the crotch! "Now a days, phone manufacturers as well as the carriers add some much needed software to the devices. Shouldn't there be some space left for you? The HTC One (M8), IT has 32gb of ROM!" That would definitely be a dagger to the 16gb Galaxy S5.




By casualsuede on 4/22/2014 1:33:46 PM , Rating: 2
When a "consultant" is hired to report to the CEO, not the CMO, that usually means that the CMO is on his way out.

Good luck Ben, you are apart of a long line of marketing executives that were either awful or ineffective at HTC.




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