Half a century ago, Avis revolutionized car rental marketing by advertising that they were “Only Number 2″ and were trying harder.
As of last year, Avis was no longer number two by one measure, its fleet (285,000 cars in service) being smaller than Hertz’s (320,000) and Enterprise Holdings’ combined Alamo, Enterprise and National brands (920,681).
And as of this week, they’re no longer trying harder.
Avis announced that it’s officially killing the slogan that saved them from financial disaster in 1962.
The tag line that saved a company
When then-Avis CEO Robert Townsend approached then-upstart advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach for help, the company had just racked up its thirteenth consecutive annual loss, this time of $3.2 million ($22.8 million in 2010 dollars).
When copywriter Paula Green and art director Helmut Krone studied the company, they learned that there were only two good things they could honestly say about it — that it was only number two (behind Hertz) and that it would try harder (to keep ashtrays empty, cars clean, gas tanks filled, provide friendly service, etc.).
In just one year, their advertising campaign turned around not only the whole car rental industry, but Avis’s financial picture as well, propelling them to a $1.2 million ($8.5 million in 2010 dollars) profit.
The car rental company stuck with that slogan for 50 years. “In a period when taglines and brand positioning typically come and go every few years,” Ad Age writes, “the endurance of the ‘We Try Harder’ motto was unique.”
But no more. Read more →