Tuesday, September 4, 2012

We used to be about service, but now we're all about space.

Avis has apparently decided not to try harder anymore.

Last month, the newish (a year on the job) CMO announced that "We try harder" - one of the smartest, long-lasting, effective tag lines of all time - is going by-the-bye.

To be replaced with this brilliant bit of MBA blah-dee-blah: "It's your space."

What's my space? The inside of the freaking car I rented from you? And, even if it is, so the @#%& what? My space? Are you serious? This is what you want to say about your company?

You want to move from three words that put a stake in the ground for every Avis employee in the world and make it crystal clear to customers and potential customers what you stand for to three words that befuddle the shit out of anybody who reads them? In any context?

All I can figure is that nobody at the meeting was willing to stand up and shout "I don't get it" for fear of looking stupid. This, remember, was sort of why the king ran around naked.

Check the commercials. Blends in rather well, I think. Radios! They play rock music. Cool! Who knew rental cars had radios

This is one of the original ads. Dated? Yes. It was done in 1963, after all. But a better message? Absolutely.

Honestly, I can't tell you about recent Avis advertising. Maybe it sucked worse than the new stuff. But building a new ad campaign around "We try harder" sure offers a lot of fertile ground.

Jeannine Haas is the CMO in question. I looked her up on LinkedIn. Nothing in her profile - MBA (well, maybe that's a clue), worked for Ford and American Express (could be another there) before joining Avis would indicate that she is a dim bulb.

And yet . . .

Maybe it's that change-for-the-sake-of-change thing. Or, like an alpha dog, a new CMO needs to pee on things to establish some territorial ownership. Or maybe it's because the tag line in question was developed in 1963, well before she was born, before iPads and the Internet and over-thinking damn near everything became the norm.

I don't know.

But I know this. I'm an idiot and only have a bachelor's degree and was never a vice president at a company as big and prestigious as American Express or Avis. But even I know that dumping one of the greatest tag lines ever written - and, apparently dumping one of the strongest brand positions ever created along with it - for some doubletalk, touchy-feely thing is just a damn stupid thing to do.

Sure, change the freaking tag line if it needs changing. But change it to something better.

Or at least something coherent.


(P.S. I can just imagine some guy returning a rental car with a pile of garbage in the back seat, smelling strange, with suspicious stains all over the seat and explaining it all away with "Hey man, it's my space. You said so. This is how I like my space.")

3 comments:

Aztec Herbals said...

Avis is number two because Enterprise bought out several other car rental companies (even though they kept the separate brand names). Someone at Avis Corporate hasn't talked to Marketing, because they claim "We Try Harder" is still their rallying cry today. https://www.avis.com/car-rental/content/display.ac?navId=T6M21S02

I agree, the ads should talk about the "inherent benefits" but do so explicitly, not just hint at an interpretation left to the customer. The customer generally doesn't know what (new) they want until you tell them what's possible. Nobody asked for a motorcar in days gone by. They understood horses and carts and those worked fine. Advertising tells us (hopefully) about things we didn't know (we wanted), but now we do.

I want someone to try hard. I already have my own space.

Aztec Herbals said...

Avis is number two because Enterprise bought out several other car rental companies (even though they kept the separate brand names). Someone at Avis Corporate hasn't talked to Marketing, because they claim "We Try Harder" is still their rallying cry today. https://www.avis.com/car-rental/content/display.ac?navId=T6M21S02

I agree, the ads should talk about the "inherent benefits" but do so explicitly, not just hint at an interpretation left to the customer. The customer generally doesn't know what (new) they want until you tell them what's possible. Nobody asked for a motorcar in days gone by. They understood horses and carts and those worked fine. Advertising tells us (hopefully) about things we didn't know (we wanted), but now we do.

I want someone to try hard. I already have my own space.

Aztec Herbals said...

Avis is number two because Enterprise bought out several other car rental companies (even though they kept the separate brand names). Someone at Avis Corporate hasn't talked to Marketing, because they claim "We Try Harder" is still their rallying cry today. https://www.avis.com/car-rental/content/display.ac?navId=T6M21S02

I agree, the ads should talk about the "inherent benefits" but do so explicitly, not just hint at an interpretation left to the customer. The customer generally doesn't know what (new) they want until you tell them what's possible. Nobody asked for a motorcar in days gone by. They understood horses and carts and those worked fine. Advertising tells us (hopefully) about things we didn't know (we wanted), but now we do.

I want someone to try hard. I already have my own space.