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Robert Downey Jr. knows a thing or two about comebacks. Can he get HTC back on track?

The smartphone maker, trying to carve a bigger place for itself in a world by dominated Apple and Samsung, has signed the “Iron Man” star to a two-year deal to help raise the company’s profile and define its brand in the minds of the smartphone-buying public.

downeyThe first HTC ads starring Downey Jr. will air later this week. After seeing a sneak peek, I can say they will definitely stand out. The ads are quirky, to say the least — featuring Downey in a series of scenes representing various interpretations of the HTC acronym, such as the “Hipster Troll Carwash” (above).

The ultimate message: “Here’s To Change.”

The campaign comes at a pivotal time for HTC. Despite a strong critical response to the HTC One, the company has struggled against leading Android smartphone maker Samsung. HTC’s financial results have shown the effects, and the company believes it will help to make more of a name for itself in the minds of smartphone buyers.

HTC went to Downey in part because executives saw parallels between the actor and the company, said Tom Harlin, the company’s director of communications for North America. Downey is respected as an actor, yet he doesn’t follow the typical Hollywood mold.

The campaign was inspired in part by Downey asking what the letters HTC stood for. (In reality, the name originally stood for High Tech Computer Corp.) Downey and his team had “a lot of creative control over the ads that we ultimately created,” Harlin said.

The first ad airs Thursday. Here’s a teaser video in the meantime.

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