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HTC president Jason Mackenzie holding an HTC One

Being quietly brilliant isn’t all that helpful if it doesn’t help you sell phones.

HTC, it seems, has come to realize that. With sales plummeting, the company is retiring its ineffective “Quietly Brilliant'” tagline in favor of a bolder, more aggressive approach, marketing chief Benjamin Ho told the Wall Street Journal.

“We have a lot of innovations but we haven’t been loud enough,” Ho said.


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The move has been a long, long time coming. For what seems like forever, HTC has had one main problem: It makes great phones but completely fails at marketing them effectively. This reality wasn’t lost on CEO Peter Chou, who hinted at the new changes in tone months ago. “Our competitors were too strong and very resourceful, pouring in lots of money into marketing. We haven’t done enough on the marketing front,” Chou said in January.

Above: “Quietly Brilliant” was introduced in October 2009, long before HTC would realize just how ineffective/ironic of a tagline it would eventually become. (Chart via Benedict Evans)

We’ve already seen signs of this new, more bold HTC in some of the company’s recent marketing ploys. HTC North America president Mike Woodward, for example, was particularly bold in his reaction towards Samsung’s Galaxy S IV. “We were pleased to see no innovation in the design itself,” he quipped.

HTC also targeted Samsung by showing off the HTC One and giving away hot cocoa outside the Galaxy S IV’s launch event earlier this month. And then there was the whole #theNextBigFlop Twitter campaign that the company launched.

HTC’s aggression towards Samsung is understandable. The HTC One and Galaxy S IV are set to go on sale at roughly the same time next month, and HTC is rightfully concerned by how badly that standoff could go for it. After all, Samsung spent more on marketing last year than HTC made in a single quarter. How can HTC possibly keep up with that?

So far, the answer to that question is pretty clear: Be bold, aggressive, and note, over and over, that the emperor is wearing no clothes. Frankly, it’s the only thing HTC can do at this point.

Rest in peace, ‘Quietly Brilliant,’ and may you never be heard from again.

Photo: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat

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