Avis introduces new app with appealing, relatable messages

A sweet father-daughter moment gives the car rental company a category standout, according to Ace Metrix

Ads featuring businessmen travelling are nothing new for car rental agencies. Remember O.J. Simpson running through airports for Hertz in the ‘70s? That historic campaign, which dubbed Hertz as "the superstar in rent-a-car," not only changed the face of advertising in this country, it also did wonders for Hertz’ brand favorability and bottom line. At that time, Avis was the "We Try Harder" car rental company, a reference to the fact that they were second to Hertz and therefore had to try harder to gain customers and keep them happy. Along with Enterprise, these two corporations control the majority of the car rental industry today, each owning multiple other brands, so differentiation and innovation remain mission critical.

To that end, rolling out yet another ad about a man going on a business trip may not seem like a formula for success, but Avis’ fresh take on this approach works with viewers. In "Travel Partner," from Avis’ agency Hello Creative, we see a father packing for a business trip, while his sullen daughter watches disapprovingly. Dad has the genius idea to use his brilliant new Avis app to upgrade to a larger car with a car seat for his little girl so she can accompany him. This is all set to the 1930 song "On the Sunny Side of the Street," lending an upbeat, somewhat nostalgic, feel to the ad.

In introducing their new app, Avis Now, with a relatable family moment that viewers found cute, the brand delivers a spot that exceeds the car rental category norm of every component measure. To demonstrate the consistency of Avis’ new campaign, we also looked at viewer response to "Jet Setter," which features a businesswoman who uses the new app in-flight. This also received impressive scores, with an overall score 13% above the category norm year-to-date (vs. 16% for "Travel Partner.") The Ad Personalities below show that both ads were powered by Information and Change, which indicates viewers feel the brand is doing something innovative. Though mobile apps are no longer considered particularly innovative, Avis’ new app is revolutionary in that it is designed to handle the entire rental process end-to-end.

Ad Personality
Avis "Travel Partner," Avis "Jet Setter"

Technological advances and the use of mobile technology are signs of a brand looking to engage with younger audiences, and though both ads perform well with 21- to 35-year-olds, "Travel Partner" actually performs best and is most informative among the 50+ crowd, and drives the strongest Desire among 35-49-year-olds. "Jet Setter" is most effective among 36- to 49-year-old viewers, though it scores higher in Desire and Information with the younger audience. Getting back to "Travel Partner," the connection for the 50+ audience is largely based on emotion, with many comments including "cute," "adorable," and "heartstrings." The younger target audience had the following to say about the relevance of the ad:

  • "As a dad, I totally get it. Not sure I need to add a car seat to a rental car anytime soon, but it still made me smile." (M21-35)

  • "I thought it was sweet and cute. It got the message out clearly while creating a situation that I personally know about" (M21-35)

  • "It was well done, I think. It does play to a certain demographic at the beginning (families with kids, etc.) but the explanation of the app on the screen suddenly becomes relevant to a lot of people." (F21-35)

Making an emotional connection is great for Avis, but further proof of success for this ad is the fact that 49% of viewers said purchase intent increased after viewing. Furthermore, Avis loyalists gave the ad an overall effectiveness score of 821, with Brand Considerers (who make up 50% of our panel) giving the spot an exceptional Ace Score of 703. Brand Considerers are those who say, "I have never purchased or used this brand but may consider it in the future." They commented:

  • "The advertiser wants me to know about what Avis offers and how it can be of use to me. At the press of a finger, I can order a car that meets the specifications I want at minimum hassle." (M21-35)

  • "It was nice to see a good looking car seat. Recently we took a vacation and purchased a car seat because we were wary of the typical car rental agency's car seat condition. Seeing this made me think differently." (M36-49)

  • "Precise and crisp. I like that in commercials." (F36-49) 

These new ads do a fantastic job promoting the brand as an innovator. The only car rental agency ad with stronger performance this year is Enterprise’s "One Giant Rollout," which featured celebrity Joel McHale. Higher in Breakthrough and more visually compelling, that spot was not as strong in Relevance and driving Desire. So while the use of a celebrity helped with overall impact, Avis did a better job connecting with their audience, and, as the data indicates, likely driving brand engagement.

Avis is staying true to their tagline, "This way forward." These ads are truly moving the brand forward with appealing creative that gets the message across that they are making the mundane task of renting a car a better experience for consumers.

Miriam Tremelling is senior marketing manager at Ace Metrix.

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