Why did Avis stop trying?

20100825131530After 50 years of being known as the rental car company that tried harder, Avis has abandoned its famous slogan. The new tagline? 'It's your space'. I kid you not.

The number three rental car company (Enterprise is number one and Hertz holds the number two slot) decided it was time to re-position the legendary brand and appeal to “…corporate, rather than leisure, travel,” said new CMO Jeannine Haas.


So, tell me, Ms. Hass, how does ‘It's your space’ inspire the powers that be at, say, Peppercom to suddenly choose Avis instead of our current rental car of company of choice, Budget? It doesn't. Not by a long shot.

Besides abandoning a superb tagline that doubles as a brilliant value proposition, Avis has selected three words that make more sense for a furniture company selling BarcaLoungers.

If the brand was really looking to shed the ‘We try harder’ work ethos, why beat around the bush? Be bold. Be brave. Tell the world you're mad as hell and not willing to try harder anymore.

I'd suggest:

– 'You've given up and so have we.'
– 'Sloth. Try it. You'll like it.'
– 'Do you care? We don't. Let's talk.'

Note to Ms. Hass & Avis: I'd be willing to license my personal brand motto which, I believe, you would positively adore. It's short, memorable and promises your customer the exact opposite experience as that nasty, old and tired we try harder line. Are you ready?

– 'Avis: Expect Less'

Expect Less is a game changer, Ms. Hass. Unlike Its your space, which means nothing and promises nothing, Expect Less tells the customer oh-so-much.

With Expect Less, you can justify your company's fall to third place. You can explain away shoddy quality and service. You can even leverage my tagline to undercut Enterprise and Hertz and become the low cost provider:

– 'Pay less? Then expect less.'

Brilliant, no? I need to go into the branding business.

I'll bet Avis paid Leo Burnett Communications millions of dollars for the clunker that is ‘It's your space.’

Hire me, Avis, and I'll sign away rights to 'Expect Less.'  You can even pay me less. And, drum roll please, I'll try harder.

4 thoughts on “Why did Avis stop trying?

  1. Excellent point, Peter. Despite the ad agency’s insistence that it conducted the proper marketing research, the new Avis tagline reeks of inside out, top down corporate thinking. Audiences, including the deep-pocketed ones on Wall Street, like to think a brand will go above and beyond to exceed expectations. When a company publicly abandons such a value proposition, it places an unnecessary additional burden on the bottom line (to wit: do they still care about my needs?).

  2. Though it’s pretty bad, the awfulness of “it’s your space” doesn’t bother me so much.
    What is disconcerting is that Avis, like its cousin Budget, is actually a pretty good rental car company. Yet in the face of a “rebranding” challenge, their marketing people appear to have thrown up their hands and paid all this money, saying “look ma, we have a new tagline.”
    If management isn’t angry about “it’s your space” because they now must play CYA, how about Avis Budget Group (NYSE: CAR) shareholders? No one likes expensive marketing initiatives that are doomed to fail.

  3. Thanks Catharine. It’s your space has to be one of the worst taglines in recent memory. It could literally mean anything to anyone, and work for virtually any type of business. Ugh.

  4. Great post Repman. “It’s your space” makes me think that the car company caters to overweight people who don’t fit in regular-size cars. They should go back to advertising their president’s direct line. People would love that. Yours truly included.