Avis: ‘we try harder’ to ‘unlock the world’

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‘Avis is only No.2 in rent a cars. So why go with us?’ was a thought-provoking, dissonance creating question as part of the now legendary, ‘We try harder’ campaign for Hertz. Created by Paula Greene and Helmut Kone for DDB in the 1960s the campaign resulted in market share growth for Hertz and later a marketing war with Avis.

In 2012, Hertz dropped the ‘We try harder’ tag line, in the US. Avis Europe, however, battled to keep ‘we try harder’ positioning for that market. Now the iconic tagline makes an appearance in a new spot for the European market.

Agency: VCCP

It is a beautiful film with great visuals. Though the format of a montage of visuals set to an interesting jingle or music is common, this film has a lot of repeat value. However, I feel the claim, ‘we give you the freedom to unlock unforgettable experiences’, is generic and not uniquely owned by Hertz. On the other hand, ‘We try harder’ is a brand manifesto which is differentiated, rooted in the product and conveys a real benefit to the customers. And the baseline somehow does not fit in when used as a slap on in the end without the ad explaining why the brand trie harder. In the 60s campaign, the manifesto was explained in simple terms and also linked to the product features (no cigarette butts inside the car). In the ‘unlock’ campaign it is just an ad-on. Maybe there is no need to explain the manifesto now and hence the line is only used for continuity and reassurance. But I feel it is a bit jarring when used in conduction with a generic claim. What say?

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