Marketing results for ambitious businesses

Hard advertising lessons

A long time ago a case study on the car rental company Avis made an impression on me. Avis revelled in its ‘challenger’ status, using the slogan "We try harder" to deliberately position as the world's number two car rental company (behind Hertz, far and away the leader).

Advertising effectiveness for smaller brands

Avis logo logotypeI read the Avis case study when, many years ago, I studied for an MA Marketing, and still think the strategy clever. I’m guessing that employees got behind this great tagline "We try harder" and raised their game to try and beat Hertz. And customers probably did appreciate the sentiment and commitment.

But it’s tough for a smaller brand in the shadow of a large incumbent that dominates a category. And when it comes to advertising effectiveness the numbers are stacked against you. In Mark Ritson’s study and lecture to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Effies (advertising effectiveness awards) he summarised the ten factors that play into advertising effectiveness. And right at the top of the list was ‘existing size of brand’.

If you are a smaller brand with, say, less than 10% of market share, then you have to spend relatively more on advertising just to retain your modest market share. Big brands with big market share will pay relatively less to maintain their larger share. Harsh.

Don't worry, we have brilliant creative 

Marketers for challenger brands might think they can outwit the leader brand through brilliant creative work. Nope. We marketers sometimes like to think we are in a ‘creative industry’ but, when it comes to the factors driving advertising profitability, ‘creative’ is a poor second to ‘brand size/market share’. Indeed, according to Ritson, the ‘size/share’ factor is over 50% more important to ads effectiveness than the creative.

Smaller brands simply have to work harder to stand still in the pecking order. A big brand’s money goes further because of its larger, pre-existing market share.

RELATED CONTENT: You will find more about Mark Ritson and the Effies on the #effieblog.

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Tags: advertising