Hall of Tired Taglines: When Did Avis Stop Trying Harder?

I’ve gotten several snarky e-mails about my recent blog comparing a shaving cream purchase to Al and Tipper Gore’s breakup.

(Hmmm, now that I keystroke that, I guess I can see everyone’s point.)

But I still stand behind the core ideas: 1) Marketers often confuse low-involvement “habit” purchases with brand loyalty; and 2) Brand relationships—like human relationships—can grow stale if you don’t continually refresh them.

So here’s another example: I typically rent from Hertz. But on a recent personal trip to Pittsburgh, I chose Avis because it was cheaper.

Arriving in Steel City, I was delighted to see no one waiting in line at the Avis counter, and three smiling agents eager to help me. But because I booked as an Avis Wizard, I was directed to go to a VIP kiosk in a dark and sooty parking garage, where I waited in line for 15 minutes behind four other VIPs.

At that moment, Avis’s famous “We Try Harder” button no longer resonated with me as a badge of relentless determination. It resounded like sad-sack admission of failure:

After 50 years, we’re no longer No. 2. In fact, we’re No. 3. And our old, tired tagline only reinforces that we’re still rooted in the past.

It’s time for Avis to refresh its positioning, and stand for something more. In the meantime, I’m steering all of my modest business back to Hertz. (That is, if they’ll have me back.)