Avis's advertising road map for improving the car hire journey

The Media People and Collective London won ‘Best Transport’ and ‘Best Poster’ at The Drum Out of Home Awards 2019 with its ‘Journey to Better’ campaign for Avis. Here, the agency team reveals the challenges faced and the strategies used to deliver this successful project.

The challenge

The car hire industry has a huge marketing problem – lack of consumer trust. In fact, the negative social sentiment around ‘car hire’ makes sad reading for all car rental companies, as their business model and levels of customer service fail to keep pace with customer demands.

With brand consideration falling across the entire sector, it was clear the traditional approach of ignoring the problem and instead focusing on price and/or car quality was failing. Avis, however, was changing, with lots of new innovations planned. This provided a great opportunity: to start winning back the confidence of the customer.

The strategy

Media specialists The Media People and creative agency Collective London entered into a partnership to deliver a big, bold campaign that would bring these innovations to life, while reigniting what made Avis’ advertising famous in the first place – humility and honesty.

Based on the changes Avis had planned, the strategic concept ‘Journey to Better’ was borne – a three-year international strategy, delivering proof points around Avis’ commitment to putting customers first and ‘reinventing rental’.

The primary target market was the frequent renter, 35–55 year-old professionals, who seek quality paired with ease. This demographic is particularly time-poor, so to ensure the campaign was successful, identifying the correct format and location of media buys was essential.

In terms of messaging, the difficulty lay in context. Car rental is a low-interest category, with price and car quality being the primary message across the sector. To differentiate and stand out in this market we needed to be courageous. To admit there was a problem. Rather than shy away from the industry’s faults, we used the negative sentiment as the focus of the OOH. Ad placements translated the absurdity of the accepted norms of the sector, using intelligent and attention-grabbing formats and copy, all in an unexpectedly honest and light-hearted fashion.

By carrying out social listening and exploring customer reviews, we could see international audiences shared the same gripes as the UK – ensuring the creative evoked the same reaction, and resonated, as we hoped it would in the UK market.

Key campaign considerations - choice of city, format and timing - were dictated by in-depth market research, detailed audience analysis, the media available at the transport hubs, identifying any unique display opportunities – all to ensure maximum visibility and impact. This research revealed our target audience clustered around major cities, so we focused on London, Paris, Madrid, Milan and Munich.

The campaign

The first step to build an app that puts customers back in control of their booking. The new Avis app allows users to decide on the extras they want, specify exact make and model on arrival, and skip the queues at check in and head straight to their car – answering three of the biggest customer irritations. The three humorous ads ‘Lemon’, ‘Peas’ and ‘Coffee’ at major transport hotspots across airports, train stations and subways.

This was supported by the OOH activity, which included platform and large corridor take overs, as well as giant screens, used a variety of compositions with humorous narrative for those on their daily commute.

The bold nature of the campaign paired with contextual and playful creative across busy transport hubs was a risk - but the client and the agencies involved felt it was worth taking. The OOH capitalised on the commuters’ high dwell-time at major travel hubs and spoke to those that the frustrations would have affected in the past and, therefore, who the message would resonate with. The key to taking this risk was complete confidence that Avis would deliver what it was promising – putting the customer back in control of car hire.

The results

“Not only did we exceed our goals in terms of app downloads, we also significantly increased awareness of the Avis brand, which fed through to increased rental bookings and delivered a strong ROI for us.

“The Media People and Collective London’s integrated way of working and excellent planning allowed us to identify and pinpoint our target customer and successfully delivered our message to them. They worked at pace and liaised with our wider international team with bespoke local market needs and tight deadlines. They did this all in a practical and fun nature throughout, which made them great to work with.” - John Goodbody, head of marketing, International at Avis Budget Group International

This campaign was a winner at The Drum Out of Home Awards 2019. Click here, to register your interest in next year’s event.

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