Robert Downey Jr returns in stripped-back HTC One (M8) ad

HTC has once again turned to Robert Downey Jr to help promote the launch of its latest flagship smartphone the One M8 in a stripped back ad that sees the Iron Man actor talk directly to camera about the “serious design” of his new phone. 

Video: Robert Downey Jr talks up the “serious design” of HTC’s One (M8) smartphone

In a minute-long spot on YouTube (see above), Downey Jr introduces himself as an “occasional self-important film icon and humble servant of mankind” before flagging up HTC’s “serious design” credentials, highlighting how the brand won the best mobile phone award at industry conference Mobile World Congress for the second year in a row. It ends with Downey Jr shouting at the camera that people must buy the new device or he will be possessed by a “most foul spirit”.

The new ad is a shift in approach for HTC, which went for a wackier theme in its “Here’s To Change” campaign last year as it aimed to raise awareness of the brand. As part of that, the firm signed up Downey Jr on a two-year deal as it looked to boost its marketing power to compete with rivals Samsung and Apple.

HTC recently claimed that brand tracking data has shown that campaign made consumers feel HTC is a brand that fits their lives and that it helped it reach female consumers. However, it was widely derided by the technology press and failed to make HTC’s previous flagship, the HTC One, a bestseller despite rave reviews.

Speaking earlier this year, HTC said it would now embark on more “purposeful” marketing, including the launch of a “Power to Give” app, and focus on design and craftsmanship, rather than specific features.

It has already launched a global multi-platform campaign carrying the strapline “Feel It” to support the One (M8), which launched in the UK on 25 March. It marks the brand’s biggest ever marketing spend, topping the reported $1bn it invested last year.

HTC is relying on the One (M8) to return it to profitability after it reported a wider than expected loss in the first quarter of $62.06m. It sales have slumped as it struggles to compete with the brand power and marketing muscle of smartphone market leaders Samsung and Apple.