Erin McGee has been North American vp of marketing for HTC for three months, and she's dead-set on taking the brand in a new direction. In an advertising world still dominated by TV spend, McGee has a plan in place to get the HTC One smartphone—which goes on pre-order sale today and, to be clear, is not the HTC First "Facebook phone" unveiled yesterday—squarely in front of tech-minded millennials.
The ex-Microsofter is putting 40 percent of her campaign spend in digital to help the brand make its mark in a space dominated by Apple and Samsung. What's more, McGee, who previously had a global role with HTC, is targeting cord-cutting young adults with ads around the TV shows they watch—on their schedules—online. As any digital marketer can imagine, the sales job began in-house before any media was purchased.
"If you look at the wireless industry in general and where everyone spends their money—it's TV," McGee told Adweek. "I think that has a lot of hangover around a lot of companies. Creating this approach has meant a lot of education internally and a lot of research on our part—both quantitatively and qualitatively. Seventy percent of our target audience consumes [TV] content online. We are going to engage the consumer in terms of not only where to reach them but what kind of content we need to spark that conversation."
To be clear, HTC will be running cable spots—starting on April 12—around hipster-friendly programs like Comedy Central's Colbert Report, FX's It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and TBS' Conan. And the brand is hitting the websites around those shows with banner and video ads during the coming weeks. Additionally, ads will appear via RollingStone.com, Vibe.com, MTV.com and other millennial-minded Web properties.
And when McGee talks "integrated campaign," she's pretty serious. Her team has joined forces with Funny or Die's branded content division for not only online efforts but also an interesting in-cinema play. In an effort beginning at the end of April, Funny or Die spots for the HTC One will start surfacing via 28,000 big screens on National CineMedia's network.
"Eighty percent of our intended audience goes to the movies, and they go to two or three films a month," McGee said. "It allows us to not only reach our target demo but establish some frequency as well."
While no Facebook buys have been finalized, HTC will be running Promoted Tweets via Twitter to push the One brand in the coming weeks. The Taiwan-based company will drop buzz-minded offline installations, including one today in New York's Columbus Circle neighborhood. Mobile is part of the mix in that regard. "We are doing everything from competitive targeting to geo-targeting around our events," McGee said.
Can HTC make a bigger dent in Apple and Samsung's area of mobile device dominance? The answer will go a long way toward testing the wisdom behind McGee's vision for the brand as well as the well-worn rhetoric of digital marketers everywhere. Omnicom Media Group, the brand's new digital agency, deserves credit for this interactive-minded direction, she said.
"We have a new approach this year," McGee said. "Before we have blanketed the world. ... We haven't been extremely focused in the marketplace. With all the giants out there, we know we have to be extremely focused and authentic to break through."