NEW YORK: The launch this week of an ambitious $1bn brand marketing campaign for HTC, the Taiwan smartphone maker, featuring the Hollywood actor Robert Downey Jr, is the latest in a wave of promotional efforts from smartphone manufacturers.

Last week, Samsung began a marketing blitz ahead of the planned unveiling of its Galaxy Note III "phablet" at the IFA consumer electronics show in September, while the launch of Motorola's new MotoX is being backed with a $500m advertising budget. And a new iPhone launch is also rumoured for next month.

With the high-end smartphone market becoming increasingly crowded, companies are having to make greater efforts to draw attention to their flagship brands and Larry Chiagouris, a marketing professor at Pace University, suggested to E-Commerce Times that marketers "need to focus on smaller segments and satisfy each one to a greater degree than they have in the past".

HTC is planning to achieve cut-through with its new strapline "Here's to change" in a campaign that is being billed as a way to talk about HTC One, the smartphone launched in April.

Discussing the campaign, Martin Kang, vice president of marketing for EMEA, admitted to Marketing Week that the brand "did not stand for that much" in the past.

Kang noted that HTC had made great products "but we were not really communicating at a brand level".

The use of Downey Jr in the campaign aims to position HTC as an unconventional brand that stands for change.

Unusually, the actor himself has been heavily involved in the creative. "This is a not a normal endorsement deal, where he holds the product in his hand and says something stupid about it," said Kang.

"He has contributed a lot to the final ads [and future creative], this is a long major two-year deal that he would not have agreed to do if it was cheesy."

HTC's use of a Hollywood A-list figure follows fellow Taiwanese tech company Acer's campaign last year with stars including Megan Fox, the actress.

Data sourced from MediaPost, Marketing Week, E-Commerce Times, Business Week; additional content by Warc staff