Julian’s Business Tips: Who is Number One?

Julian’s Business Tips: Who is Number One?

You may have rented a car over the summer, so I thought I would share with you one of the most famous advertising battles in the last 60 years. The US car rental companies, Hertz and Avis.

Their rivalry had, in fact, begun in the late 1940’s with Hertz dominating the US market with his downtown car lots. Avis began setting up his cars in airports, catering for those post-war travellers needing a car – and it worked!

Stung by this ploy, Mr Hertz did the same, and by the 1960’s was back dominating the market. To capitalise on this, Hertz proudly used the slogan, ‘We’re number one!’

Then Avis hit back, attacking Hertz’s pomposity: ‘We’re number two, so we have to try harder’. The campaign was an instant success – Avis went from losing $3.2 million, to earning $1.2 million in just one year!

They kept this going for decades, always implying that Hertz was complacent, but never mentioning them by name! ‘Avis can’t afford not to be nice’, ‘Avis can’t afford to make you wait’, ‘Avis can’t afford dirty ashtrays’.

In fact Avis only dropped the slogan in 2012 – half a century after it was first used.

However, there’s a sting in the tale. After 9/11 and the 2009 recession slowed air travel, these two companies took big hits.

It was then that they realised that Enterprise had continued to occupy the downtown lots – and had been quietly signing lucrative deals with insurance companies, to provide courtesy vehicles when customers cars were being repaired or serviced – a completely ignored market!

Clever advertising is good – but NEVER take your eye off the ball! Don’t forget what your business is for, and that without customers, you are nothing.

Who’s number one in the US today? Enterprise!