Marketing is hard and HTC just keeps missing the mark

image HTC One M9 ad

Marketing is probably one of the hardest things about selling something. There are a lot of different angle to consider, several different layers to navigate, all in a hope that you, or a group of individuals probably, can sell a specific product to as many people as possible. It probably comes naturally to some people, to sell things, but not every product is for everyone. Just look at how angry people get on the Internet when a product launches that might not be specifically built for them.

Marketing is exceptionally tough. What someone might think is a killer feature in a smartphone is probably stupid and note worth mentioning to someone else. Even things that might be considered “common sense,” aren’t the same from person to person. I know a lot of people who don’t like UltraPixel cameras (the ones that were previously installed in flagship HTC smartphones), and I know probably just as many people who love them.

As hard as marketing is, it may be even harder to give some companies a pass when things don’t go according to plan. At least, when it doesn’t appear to go according to plan from a consumer’s perspective. Now, I think it’s a safe statement to make that Apple’s marketing is generally pretty great. No, it hasn’t always been perfect, and sometimes it hasn’t even been great. But, especially lately, Apple’s marketing of its products really does a great job of getting a point across.

Take, for example, Apple’s latest marketing push, which didn’t even put any of its products at center stage. Yes, “Shot on iPhone 6” has the name of the company’s smartphone right there, but that’s it. The moment you start digging into it, it’s all about the pictures and how amazing they are. Despite the fact that you’re not looking at an iPhone 6, you can’t help but think about it while you’re looking at images of buildings, trees, or people. The iPhone 6 takes great photos, and Apple doesn’t have to market the megapixel count.

The reason I bring this up is because this morning, even before I had a chance to really wake up, someone sent me a link to HTC’s latest marketing push, which is meant to promote the One M9, the manufacture’s newest flagship Android phone. Now, based on many HTC ads that have been released previously, I was expecting to see something a bit different. I was even expecting to see Robert Downey, Jr. However, nothing could have prepared me for what happened next.

HTC uses color-coded sections to depict several different “shorts,” all starring Downey, Jr., and all having another thing in common: no One M9. Worse than that, these ads are completely banana pants. Not only do they not show the product at all (the static image at the end of the ad doesn’t count for anything), but they don’t even have any dialogue or rational connection to the smartphone at all. In one ad, Downey, Jr. screws a grenade into an exposed light socket. In another, he refuses to fall victim to interrogation from a person in a rabbit costume. And these are just two videos. There is a “Merman” in another one.

Simply put, these are some of the worst ads that I’ve ever seen, and there have been plenty of awful ads before. These might take the cake though. They feel more like projects from a freshman film student, rather than results from a huge company shoveling a ton of money into its marketing machine. And yes, people are talking about the ads and I guess that’s good, but it’s awful when you realize that people are talking about the ads, and not the phone.

In no universe does a person in a rabbit suit make me want to buy a smartphone.

Marketing is hard. That becomes remarkably clear when ads like this show up. And, ultimately, it makes me realize how right Apple gets it.