Back in August 2013, HTC kicked off the Here’s To Change campaign, a marketing initiative aimed at refreshing its image and turning around faltering sales.
Reportedly, the campaign had a budget of $1 billion, of which $12 million alone went to Hollywood A-lister Robert Downey Jr, who starred in a few ads to mixed reception. That price tag was no small sum for a struggling phone maker with no side business to fall back to.
Now one of the architects of the – largely failed – Here’s To Change campaign is leaving the company. Ben Ho, who became HTC’s Chief Marketing Officer in January 2013, is now on a sabbatical, the phone maker said today, though sources told Bloomberg that it was actually a resignation.
In addition to Ho, another senior figure leaving his station is Fred Liu, President of Operations and Engineering. It appears though that Liu, a veteran of the company, will continue to oversee manufacturing and sales services, according to sources cited by the WSJ.
HTC declined to comment on reports that the two execs resigned.
Chairwoman Cher Wang, who cofounded HTC in 1997 together with Peter Chou, will reportedly take over the duties of Ben Ho. In the past, Wang repeatedly said that better marketing would be a focus of HTC, now a small player trying to cope with the multi-billion ad budgets of competitors like Samsung and Apple. However, the big marketing transformation has failed to materialize so far, and HTC actually saw dipping revenue year-on-year, even if managed a small profit in Q2 2014.
It’s worth noting that Ben Ho’s departure comes before the release of HTC’s first Android Wear smartwatch, which is rumored for August. Later this year, HTC may receive a boost from the release of a Nexus tablet codenamed Volantis. Companies working with Google under the Nexus program have typically seen positive side effects in terms of brand recognition and new products reception.