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

“We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone.” -- Steve Jobs

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