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Part 2: We Try Harder? Perhaps Not In Social Media

Trying Harder?

Surprisingly, while the historic rivalry between Avis and Hertz still draws the most comparisons today, Enterprise Holdings quietly gained the #1 spot in the late ’90s and hasn’t looked back.

Still, the chart below does hold some good news for Avis fans. Avis is now virtually neck-to-neck with Hertz in the number of locations served and most importantly, revenue. (Market Data – 2011 U.S.Car Rental Market, 2011)

It’s fair to ask, given the overall lackluster social media performance of the entire industry, why one would single out Avis for criticism?

The answer is simple. The “We Try Harder” campaign is part of the Avis DNA. At some level it is a part of the travel industry DNA as well and still is one of the most-recalled advertising campaigns of all time. It has an unmatched record for

Telling 2011 US Car Rental Market Share

connecting with the public in a way that pulled them from near bankruptcy to a healthy business now on equal footing with arch-rival Hertz. However, it is a huge, squandered social media opportunity. Here’s why:

• “We Try Harder” has all the key elements for a two-way dialog with consumers including a self-effacing, conversational tone that enjoys huge name recognition

• Like the 1960s, the auto rental industry is currently engaged in “me-too” marketing half-steps

• The time is ripe for another break-through campaign, only this time social media needs to be the driver (mass media no longer has “mass traction”)

• Leveraging “We Try Harder” is a social media natural for engaging in a wide range of lifestyle conversations with the affluent, educated travelling community with the added benefit to also offer enhanced, real-time, on-demand or travel services much like Delta or Southwest Airlines

 Opportunities Abound

Avis has basically caught up with Hertz. They do have to fend off further market share erosion to Enterprise, but getting back to #2 is within reach and the bragging rights for finally surpassing Hertz.

Hertz has much less of a “connection message” but has been more pro-active in social media. A quick Twitter comparison is indicative of Hertz and Avis social media efforts across various platforms:

Hertz vs. Avis on Twitter

Hertz Twitter numbers blow away Avis

The Twitter engagement numbers are not even close. The question is: “What would happen if Avis really did ‘Try Harder’ in social media? Surprisingly, Avis doesn’t even offer a Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube icon on their home page.

LL Bean provides many ways for lifestyle engagement

By contrast, mail order and Internet powerhouse LL Bean’s uses multiple Facebook pages and many options for sticky conversations.


The Avis “We Try Harder” advertising campaign with its honest voice and demonstrated resonance with the public is a natural for a establishing a social media program on steroids. Virtually every campaign element developed over four decades is ripe for creating sticky conversations.

With all the car rental industry leaders running pedestrian social media efforts, Avis has another opportunity for shaking up the industry. In fact, there is a new reason for a sense of urgency for Avis. Arch-rival Hertz has been courting #4-ranked Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group off-and-on for the last two years. Should this deal be consummated, Avis will again become a very distant 3rd in the industry.

If for no other reason, Avis should now leverage their legendary campaign and name recognition more aggressively through a comprehensive range of Social Media platforms.


Works Cited

AdAge. (2011, July). TOP 100 ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. Retrieved February 28, 2012, from adage.com: http://adage.com/century/campaigns.html

Advertising Greatness-2 Avis. (2009, September 29). Retrieved February 26, 2012, from SellSellBlog: http://sellsellblog.blogspot.com/2008/09/advertising-greatness-2-avis.html

Avis Case Study. (2012). Retrieved February 2012, from Create Marketing: http://www.createmarketing.co.uk/pdf/avis-case-study.pdf

Market Data – 2011 U.S.Car Rental Market. (2011). Retrieved February 29, 2012, from Auto Rental News: http://www.autorentalnews.com/fileviewer/1410.aspx

Owyang, J. (2010). /rise-of-social-commerce-webinar. Retrieved February 27, 2012, from Slideshare.net: http://www.slideshare.net/jeremiah_owyang/rise-of-social-commerce-webinar

Parten, C. (2011, July 11). Top Ad Campaigns of the 20th Century. Retrieved February 28, 2012, from CNBC.com: http://www.cnbc.com/id/43673665/Top_Ad_Campaigns_of_the_20th_Century

Wilson, B. (2010, July). Step Into Delta Air Lines’ Social Media Lab. Retrieved February 2012, from Aviatiuon Week: http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs/commercial_aviation/ThingsWithWings/index.jsp?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&newspaperUserId=7a78f54e-b3dd-4fa6-ae6e-dff2ffd7bdbb&plckPostId=Blog%3a7a78f54e-b3dd-4fa6-ae6e-dff2ffd7bdbbPost%3a39e76505-520



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