AdAge lists the Avis “we try harder” campaign (1963) at #10 in the top 100 advertising campaigns. And for a reason: it was a well executed campaign combined with a well executed total brand experience.
It is still one of the best examples of what repositioning a brand in consumers mind can do. If Hertz is number one, Avis made an asset of being number 2!
I must admit, most of time I did rent with Avis. I kind of liked the idea of dealing with the “underdog” that tries harder. This, even though my New York City Avis experience was always the same: long lines, very slow service (I was thinking that the lines at Hertz must be even longer and slower!) but always I got the car I wanted.
One Sunday we went for a little ride to meet up with friends. While getting something from the trunk I accidentally left the key inside the trunk and closed it. All my daughters things like diapers, pacifiers, spare clothes etc were locked inside the car. Not having any spare keys I called Avis road service. The locksmith arrived after 1.5 hours and was able to open the front door (it was a Sunday but still). When the locksmith opened up the door the alarm of the car went off and the electric mechanism to open the trunk got locked. This happens as prevention. Unfortunately we couldn’t open the trunk from the inside… so, we had to call a second locksmith who was able to copy the key and open the trunk. The whole thing took 5 hours with numerous calls to Avis … I was all the time thinking…. Avis… we try harder? Why did the road service not know that our rental car did not have access to the trunk from inside the car? It would have really made my day when the road service would have told me “normally we would send a normal locksmith but with your car you cannot get to the trunk from the inside, so we send somebody special. And since you have a five month old baby we will make sure we help you super fast. No worries all will be fine”
Oeps… no access to the trunk from inside the car!
After this ‘accident’ I went to Avis’ website and found out that the slogan “We try harder” was actually not linked to their company logo anymore! At least not in the USA. Perhaps it is a good thing. Once your brand promise and messaging does not equal the total product/ brand experience trouble is on the horizon. Brand authenticity will go in decline and people are up for a switch.