Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cool enough for you?

Can renting a car be cool?

Can a commercial about renting a car be cool?

Apparently if you create a mascot that looks like the monochromatic cousin of Stewie Griffin, hire Owen Wilson to do your voice over and then shoot a commercial that says nothing about your business or how you're different and better than all the other rental car companies out there, you can.

Oh, I get it. It's all about being consumer-centric. If we show you how insightful we are then you'll love us. Look, we even have a website that helps us figure out who you are. See, if you're a sorry stick-in-the-mud, otherwise known as a "Brake," we'll recommend a mini-van. But if you're a wild person who lives on the edge, a "Gas," we'll rent you a Dodge Challenger! Cool, huh?

What's the point of all this?

According to Catherine East, Group Account Director for DDB New York, this campaign will help Hertz re-establish themselves as a "Culture Brand." First of all, what the hell is a culture brand? And secondly, was Hertz ever one? I doubt they were even in their heyday when OJ was flying through airports.

My guess is most people don't consider products they interact with a couple of times a year part of their culture. They're a convenience.

I applaud Hertz for trying to do something more. Something different. Something that stands out in the category. But this is a hollow effort. It may raise their awareness, but what's the brand going to do for me? What's the benefit? What does Hertz do better than any other car rental company so I have something other to go on than price when choosing a car?

When they've answered those questions maybe they'll be ready to try to be something more than just cool.

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