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Ad of the Day: Robert Downey Jr. Spits Absurd Non Sequiturs for HTC

It's fun—but is it worth it?

You can tell just from the guy's back that it's Robert Downey Jr., but I'm mostly happy to see Jon Polito again after several years of absence from Coen brothers movies, and a great shout-out to Downey Sr.'s masterpiece of advertising and race relations, Putney Swope. This is a fun ad, although it's a lot more expensive than it needs to be for a fairly simple concept. (Also, the less outrageous gags are the best ones—"Hold This Cat?" Right on.)

Downey is one of those guys—like Charlie Sheen or Nicolas Cage—who's never not "on," and that's got to be good for the sponsor, because they paid him what I would imagine is quite at bit of money to back the brand for a long time ("and we got off easy!").

This campaign is going to continue for between two and three years or until you buy a freaking HTC phone, you jerks! It's costing the tech company fully a billion dollars, which is all well and good, although one wonders whether a homage to a 44-year-old movie is really the best way to capture the youth market. On the other hand, the youth market is pretty chill about non sequiturs and absurdity and likes Downey the Younger quite a bit, and, well, HTC needs to try something. One of the top YouTube comments suggests "Help This Company."

It is odd that Downey, one of the highest-paid stars in Hollywood, arrives as the representative of "subversive thinking" and manages to sell it. Somehow, the guy manages to pass the whole thing off as a joke that you and he, and not the squares in the ad are in on, hence the building of the Humongous Tin Catamaran. Hey, this cat has to channel his talents creating hoary television commercials. How's that criminal?

Ah, nuts. Now I'm doing it.

Client: HTC
Agency: 171 Worldwide (WPP)
WorldWide Managing Director: Dennis De Yonker
Executive Group Director: Anna Holland
Co-chief Creative Officers: James Dawson-Hollis, Bill Wright
Creative Directors: Robert Downey Jr., Nathan Dills
Associate Creative Directors: Dennis Lee
Art Directors: Dennis Lee, Euan Au
Copywriters: Nathan Dills, Jeff Heath
Executive Producer: Maureen Phillips
Junior Producer: Lisa Delonay
Production Company: Hungry Man
Director: Bryan Buckley
Executive Producer: Mino Jarjoura
Producer: Jay Shapiro
Director of Photography: Scott Henriksen
Post-production Company: The Mill
Editorial Company: Cosmo Street
Editor: Tessa Davis
Assistant Editor: Zoe Mougin
Music Company: Beacon Street Studios
Composers: Andrew Feltenstein, John Nau

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