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John Malmo: Can Horatio Help Hertz?

By John Malmo


Can Horatio Help Hertz? by John Malmo

Memphis, TN – I talk about brand icons because they're so important. One big category that has been without brand icons is car rental. And that's surprising because it's such a me-too category. But finally, Hertz has introduced Horatio, an animated, yellow (naturally) dashboard figurine.

Horatio has a football-shaped head and a permanent wink. Hertz also has hired an actor and actress to play comedic roles called Gas and Brake in TV commercials. That seems like a mistake. One icon is good. Three maybe not. We'll have to wait and see.

It's the industry's first serious effort at brand differentiation in advertising since the early seventies "We're-Only-Number-Two" campaign by AVIS. That campaign was very successful because it created a favorable personality for AVIS. So it's surprising no other car rental brand has tried to create a true brand personality. Those AVIS ads said, "We're only Number two, so we have to try harder."

It was created by the legendary Bill Bernbach who went around the country, then told the AVIS CEO the only difference he could see was that AVIS was second biggest, and AVIS people seemed to try hard. People believed it, so it created a favorable personality for AVIS. Forty years later Hertz hopes Horatio can do the same.

John Malmo is a marketing consultant who concentrates on helping business owners grow their businesses with effective marketing. To reach Mr. Malmo, hear and read more of his commentaries, or ask him a direct question, go to AskMalmo.com.

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