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Brand Strategy: AVIS Abandons Trying Harder


Brand Strategy Avis Tagline

After 50 years of “We try harder,” AVIS Car Rental has announced that it will replace that slogan with a new one, “It’s your space.” When introduced, “We try harder” was lauded as a brilliant counterpoint to Hertz’s #1 position in the car rental industry. It was a strong brand promise that played off the belief that the #2 car rental company would work harder on a customer’s behalf.

Since the introduction of that slogan, the competitive landscape in the rental car industry has gotten more crowded and more challenging. Having used most of the rental car brands myself, I can confirm that Enterprise has consistently shown that it tries harder in the area of customer service. Perhaps, that’s why AVIS finally walked away from its much-lauded slogan.

While I can understand that “It’s your space” is customer focused, it is not a promise and I am unconvinced that it differentiates. I am sure a great amount of brand research went into the development of the new tagline (or I at least hope it did). But I just don’t get it. As a very frequent business traveler, I am not compelled to use AVIS based on this new slogan.

I will withhold judgment until I have seen the marketing campaigns associated with this slogan unfold, but, for now, all I can say is, “huh?”

What is your opinion?

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RiczWest on September 21st, 2012 said

I think it’s really lame and diffuse. Seems like an average arrived at by a committee doing market research 😉 Agree totally that it now lacks action and commitment.
Yes it’s my space, so is my house, the road,… So what? It’s Your Car (which is not that good) would of been a bit more concrete and better.

Derrick Daye on September 21st, 2012 said

I agree Brad. Enterprise became better at delivering on the AVIS value proposition. But is walking away from a tagline with this much equity smart? I don’t think so. Smart would be renewing the commitment to trying harder and developing unique and compelling reasons to believe it.

In uncertain times, with rapid change all around us we gravitate to things we trust and can hold onto. We look to places of comfort and stability. This can be found in the bond we have with brands. ‘We try harder’ (the tagline) delivered on that. Where is the emotional connection this new tagline should evoke? How does it serve their target customer? Can’t I get ‘that space’ from the competition?

(Disclaimer: I have not seen the research)

Jay Moneta on September 23rd, 2012 said

Yeah, well said… “huh?

Steve Katz 19 on September 24th, 2012 said

Completely agree. When your value proposition is based on offering more dedication to you, the customer, and the customer realizes that you have abandoned that approach because you no longer “work harder,” you are suggesting that your company isn’t fully delivering anymore.

By circumventing that approach and simply saying that “our product is yours,” your “sanctuary” doesn’t offer any emotional incentive, other than you simply get a car. I get no positive emotional response whatsoever. You nailed it by saying it doesn’t differentiate and doesn’t reinforce their core brand values. I guess their lagging sales suggests they’ve abandoned them sometime ago. It’s a shame.

DFHobbs on September 24th, 2012 said

Sad undifferentiated pablum. The concept of under promise over deliver has been turned into no promise no delivery?

Donna Cusano on September 24th, 2012 said

Shared via Email: I speak as a person who spent 13 1/2 years in four advertising and marketing positions at Avis, ending in 2001 when it was acquired fully by the now dead-as-dodo Cendant… I know quite a lot about how Avis got to ‘We try harder’, what it meant to the company through many ownership changes, and how ‘We try harder’ (WTH) evolved in the time I was there.

Since I left car rental eight years ago, I pay little attention to the sector. I’m now just a normal occasional renter without any particular loyalties to any brand. But this change hit a nerve–as a professional marketer with a keen interest in positioning, and also as a former Avis marketer who has some pride in her and her former colleagues’ work there in the past. So you can look upon the following critique as either pertinent and smart, or the ramblings of someone nostalgic for her past and out of touch with the current frequent car rental user.

Topline: IDIOTIC. FOOLISH. Just toss away 50 years of equity and positioning.


We Try Harder was always aspirational in two ways. We promised a benefit to the customer that we would work our tails off for them to have a clean, ready, good car at the minimum and yes, much more than that as we shaped it later. It was there for us to live up to operationally and it was 100% customer-focused. Internally, it gave us a standard to achieve thru the organization; I know since I was familiar with customer service training in many different areas. It’s also a bar that was constantly being raised. As a marketer, with this kind of positioning, I had to be careful not to over-promise–but I had great consumer, travel agent (remember them?) and employee stories to tell.

WTH was shapeable. We could introduce new features and services easily–because we were always trying harder to please the customer.

WTH was timeless and STRONG. There is never anything dated about happy customers. It also said what we did and why we were different loud and clear.

WTH translated well internationally. I know because I dealt with that market too.

You don’t toss 50 years (1963) of real estate in the mind (a/k/a positioning) without a damn good reason. Someone tell me the reason. (sound of crickets)

The company has strayed far operationally from fulfilling WTH. In my day we were #1 in JD Power and a finalist for the Malcolm Baldrige national quality award.

What the heck is ‘my space’ anyway? Yes, I get that peace and quiet deal in the car, or that the car is a meeting space. But in a rental, where I’m concerned about getting from point A to point B on time, on unfamiliar roads and late for a meeting (or a date with a beach)? It’s a campaign theme, one of many Avis has had over the years. And I can rent ‘my space’ from another RAC…

Their new CMO (one year) is out of American Express and their new agency is Leo Burnett Business. Draw conclusions as ye may.

David Friedman on January 13th, 2013 said

I thought it might resonsate, but after thinking about it, I also believe it is lame. It puts the brand on the car i.e the car is your space. Cars are not made by Avis. The rental experience is. When one says “WE try harder” the perspective is on the company, its processes, and its people. I think that is a commitment and a promise that can materialize through Avis’s efforts.

Now, one has to imagine that the concept of “we try harder” may be tired at this point. Certainly, to a large extent, Avis lost out as the number two car company. But still the focus on customer service, an attention to detail would be in the realm of positioning that Avis should do.

Time will tell if the tag line (slogan) will actually resonate and mean something. Right now, I have a puzzled look as well.


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