Why did Samsung kick HTC’s ass last year and why are they probably going to kick their ass again this year? Advertising. HTC’s marketing budget is practically non-existant compared to the billions that Samsung spends every year to make sure you know what a Galaxy is and that there’s a new one out on the market. In fact, Samsung spends more money on ads in one year (about $14 billion) than HTC makes in phone sales.

It’s kind of sad, but that’s just the world we live in.

Now when you look at the smaller players, they’re even less hesitant to run an ad or two. According to ZTE USA CEO Lixin Cheng, who spoke to FierceWireless during Mobile World Congress, ZTE doesn’t want to “burn money to increase brand awareness”. He says that’s “not our character, it’s not our strategy.”

What is ZTE’s strategy? “B2B2C”, short for business to business to consumer. ZTE wants to court the operators, who in turn will tell their customers about ZTE’s devices. It’s a quaint concept, that needs to be said, but it appears to be working, albeit slowly.

And what about Huawei? That’s ZTE’s number one enemy. Huawei says they’re going to go big with a marketing campaign this year, telling people that their new corporate slogan is “Make it possible”, but we don’t know how much money they plan on spending. Huawei is the third largest phone maker according to the analysts at IDC, which means they’ve definitely reached the point where they need to flex their public relations muscles.

Can any company honestly get anywhere without advertising? Small companies can, but if you’re talking about markets where you’re pushing 50+ million units of a commodity every quarter, then you need some way to tell people to buy your wares.