Hold This Cat: HTC and Robert Downey Jr. kick off $1 billion 'Change' campaign (update: full video)

Hipster Troll Carwash

"Big things ahead?" Well, it looks like HTC's earlier tweet wasn't a cheeky hint at the upcoming 5.9-inch One Max; but rather, it was a tribute to the sheer scale of the new "Here's To Change" global ad campaign. The company has just confirmed that it did indeed sign Robert Downey Jr. for a two-year deal, which includes starring him in the ads as well as getting his creative input in the process. Given CMO Ben Ho's promise to make the company's voice louder, it's no surprise that he's spending the same amount as last year's worldwide sales and marketing budget -- about $1 billion -- on this campaign alone, according to an HTC spokesperson. Not bad for Ho's first big act since he joined the company towards the end of last year.

We were also told that the entire "Change" campaign should cover the span of 24 to 36 months, during which it'll be split into three phases. As part of the first phase, come Thursday a whacky two-minute TV ad will begin to air in key markets, featuring Downey and his fellow actors blurting out what "HTC" could stand for -- "Humongous Tinfoil Catamaran," "Hipster Troll Carwash," "Hold This Cat" and more -- in order "to invoke interest and talkability amongst consumers." Interestingly, you won't find many mentions of any HTC phone in the first full ad, but the subsequent phases of the campaign will eventually focus on the mobile features. There's no word on the timeframe for each phase just yet due to all sorts of variables.

It remains to be seen whether Downey's contribution will help drive sales numbers, something that HTC desperately needs to just about survive these days. Perhaps an Iron Man special edition One could be considered? Yes please. Anyhow, press release after the break.

Update: We've now embedded the full two-minute TV ad after the break.

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Robert Downey Jr. ushers in record investment and Change brand positioning

Taipei, Taiwan - 12 August 2013 – HTC, a global leader in mobile innovation and design, today unveiled its most ambitious campaign to date. A long-term integrated strategy that celebrates HTC's 17 years of disruption and innovation in the mobile industry, the Change brand platform will embody the message that HTC inspires innovation by standing for "anything you want it to". Featuring a broad range of digital, social, PR and above the line activity, the global Change platform will kick off with a series of ad creative fronted by Robert Downey Jr. which hits a broad spectrum of media outlets on August 15th.

With Robert Downey Jr. as the instigator of change, the creative ads explore imaginative HTC word associations to invoke interest and talkability amongst consumers. The narrative follows the well- known actor and director as he kicks-off the realm of change made possible by HTC. Designed to demonstrate HTC's role as a change maker the ad creative will feature a range of possible HTC acronyms including Humongous Tinfoil Catamaran and Hipster Troll Carwash. This will be supported by a series of social engagement and experiential activities that will bring the campaign to life.

Ben Ho, CMO of HTC comments, "HTC's innovation, authenticity and boldness have made us the change-makers in the mobile industry and led us to launch what influencers regard as the best phone in the world, the HTC One. Our original and playful Change platform is different to anything else out there and aligns our brand with the same qualities our phones are already known for. With this campaign, we are affirming what HTC's role is in the mobile market which is to define change and to lead the industry in developing the newest and most innovative technologies."

Shot on location in Miami and directed by Hungry Man's Bryan Buckley, and featuring music composed by Beacon Street Studios in Los Angeles the first on-air ad creative will be supported by HTC's biggest multi-channel social media, TV, print, outdoor and in-store campaign to date, and will be followed by KSP feature-led activity focused on the innovations of the award-winning HTC One smartphone family.

The face behind the Change

Recognised as one of the most popular faces on the big screen, Robert Downey Jr. has signed a two- year deal with HTC. In addition to starring in the ad, he has injected his own style, working closely with HTC's global agency 171 Worldwide (WPP Group) to shape its creative direction, putting change at the core of HTC's brand by offering a variety of unique interpretations of the HTC acronym.

Celebrating the change-makers

The brand platform will roll out in three phases with the initial advertising campaign highlighting HTC's brand with a playful take on what it means to different people. The second phase will feature executions which highlight how HTC innovations-like BlinkFeed TM, Video Highlights TM and BoomSound TM-have changed the face of the mobile industry. The following ad spots will then focus on how HTC products empower individuals to drive change in their own lives.

Changing the media mix

Aligning with the preferences of HTC's target audience, the ATL campaign will be heavily weighted to cinema, online and digital media. Experiential events in key markets, like the UK, US and Taiwan, will also bring the brand message to life for consumers, who will be able to experience the various creative interpretations of HTC for themselves. Extending the interpretation to consumers, a word randomiser app hosted on and promoted via a range of social channels including Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, has also been developed to allow people to identify the most outlandish possible interpretations of HTC, building on the variety of permutations first introduced in the ATL campaign.

The Change ad creative was developed by HTC's global agency 171 WorldWide 'with the media' campaign managed by Omnicom Group's M2M Media and on-going PR activity provided by Nelson Bostock Group in EMEA and Waggener Edstrom in North America.