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