HTC sparks outrage by seemingly promising ‘swag’ for U11 hate ‘combat’, campaign quickly revised

The favored son of tech media has been sinking lower and lower in global smartphone manufacturer rankings over the past few years, and despite more strategy shifts, lineup overhauls and new beginnings than we can count, sales numbers are still flat.

But even as Samsung appears to be crushing records with the “Infinity Display” Galaxy S8, and Apple’s iPhone 8 buzz spectacularly grows by the day, the squeezable HTC U11 aims for the stars.

Based on our first 24 hours with the shiny 5.5-incher, this certainly looks like the Taiwanese company’s biggest design and functionality win in ages, which probably means our upcoming full review will produce a way higher overall rating than 7.8.

The device therefore doesn’t need artificial, exaggerated praise from, erm, hardcore brand fans, which HTC may have inadvertently encouraged in a campaign for its “top supporters from around the world”, gathered in the private Elevate community.

Fearing negative online commentators who “haven’t spent time” with the HTC U11 or “folks that are judging it without spending a second of time with it” would muffle the many “rave reviews from those that have touched/used the phone”, the OEM issued a somewhat controversial call to action.

Elevate members were initially asked to “mobilize and combat some of the negative things that are out there about the HTC U11”, which sounded a little… iffy. Making matters worse, fans “had” to prove their commitment to the cause and impeccable “mobilization” in the comment sections on “various blogs” and on social media with relevant links to score “swag goodies.”

Even if it wasn’t perhaps HTC’s intention, this Elevate “activity” could have been interpreted as paid manipulation of “various” online discussions, which is why a big wave of criticism (or “feedback”) led to important language changes.

All “swag” is out, and instead of “mobilizing” and “combatting” the U11 hate, people are now asked to help “counter” it, with proof no longer compulsory, as you can choose to casually “throw in some of the comments that you post in this Elevate activity.” That’s much better, though the PR damage may already be done. We also may never view a positive comment for an HTC product the same as before.

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About The Author
Adrian Diaconescu
Adrian has had an insatiable passion for writing since he was in school and found himself writing philosophical essays about the meaning of life and the differences between light and dark beer. Later, he realized this was pretty much his only marketable skill, so he first created a personal blog (in Romanian) and then discovered his true calling, which is writing about all things tech (in English).