ZTE to target the West with European PR drive

LONDON: Chinese smartphone maker ZTE is in talks with agencies over a wide-ranging pan-European brief to increase brand recognition among Western consumers.

LONDON: Chinese smartphone maker ZTE is in talks with agencies over a wide-ranging pan-European brief to increase brand recognition among Western consumers.

ZTE is the fourth-largest smartphone maker in the world, but it has a far smaller footprint in the European market than in Asia.

The brand, which has traditionally gained market share through low-priced handsets, is seeking to reposition itself as a high-end provider as 4G mobile technology spreads.

It is thought that part of the brief involves increasing the brand's social media numbers. ZTE UK's Facebook page has more than 20,000 followers, and the company has just more than 8,000 Twitter followers.

 ZTE employed British rap star Professor Green to act as an ambassador for the brand in 2011 and 2012. Axicom, which has worked for the smartphone maker for nine years and will retain b-to-b duties, handled promotion of the endorsement.

The new drive comes amid fierce competition in the smartphone market, with a number of brands nipping at the heels of the ubiquitous Apple and Korean giant Samsung.

BlackBerry, Huawei, HTC, and Nokia are all vying for the third spot in global sales of smartphones.

ZTE is following Chinese contemporary Huawei in refocusing its communications. As part of a push to boost its prospects in the UK, Huawei enlisted W Communications to handle consumer PR last month and Pelham Bell Pottinger and Harvard PR to handle corporate and b-to-b PR, respectively, last September.

Both Chinese brands face a challenge in Europe following reports that European Union trade officials are considering investigating the pair over reported violations of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy guidelines.

BlackBerry and Nokia have also conducted global agency reviews as they seek to regain lost market share in the rapidly changing market. BlackBerry hired a team consisting of APCO Worldwide and Text 100 for an account worth about $10 million in April following a multiple-round review. Nokia picked Cohn & Wolfe as its agency partner for global communications support the following month.

Taiwanese manufacturer HTC brought in Dynamo in the UK at the beginning of June for a consumer campaign for its flagship HTC One handset.

This story originally appeared on the website of PRWeek UK, the sister publication of PRWeek at Haymarket Media.

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