Hertz is running an ad campaign at the moment that includes some radio commercials. I say includes, but perhaps the entire campaign is being run exclusively on the radio, and maybe the campaign consists solely of just the one ad. This matters, because the quality of any other ads in the series – on the radio, in the press or online – may go some way towards mitigating the forty seconds of crap I heard last night. Here’s a précis of the set-up:
MIDDLE CLASS MAN: I’d like to hire a car please.
DODGY USED-CAR-DEALER-TYPE LONDONER: Yeah, what’cha after then?
MCM: Well, something a bit stylish and modern.
DUCDTL: Got just the thing. Lovely motor. Very spacious. Here it is!
MCM: But…but….that’s a VAN!!!!
See? The person wishing to hire the car had visited one of the less-well known vehicle rental businesses, perhaps in a desire to save money in these belt-tightening times, and the no-good scoundrel behind the counter had tried to rent him a van instead of a car. Because that’s what must happen: businessmen in focus groups often recount the times they had to turn up to an important meeting behind the wheel of a battered long-wheelbase Ford Transit or an LDV 200-series with a Luton conversion. It just doesn’t look good.
It’s clearly a false premise, though. Discovering that Ronnie’s Rentals doesn’t have the exact model you wish to hire is entirely possible. Finding that the car is in a poor state of repair or that its ashtray is full may be a familiar occurence. But the scenario of this ad is so unlikely that I suspect it won’t even begin to resonate with the target market. And I reckon this over-exaggeration of the possible negative consequences of trying to save a few quid is deliberate. It was done in order to put more space between that and the positive aspects of hiring a car from Hertz. The creative team must have struggled to find anything appreciably better about the Hertz experience, so they made the alternative seem absurdly nightmarish.
Some fuss guaranteed
This is borne out by what’s said in the ‘positive’ section of the radio ad, the bit where we get all serious and real-worldy. The voiceover reassuringly informs us that a car can be hired from Hertz with a minimum of fuss. So there will be some fuss, you say? Despite your 94 years of experience in renting cars, it’s still a bit of a fuss to hire a car from Hertz? Expecting the process to be free from fuss is an unrealistic expectation, is it?
I detect the hand of a nervous client here. Or maybe the RACC had a problem with a previous version of the script, the one that alluded to a 100% guaranteed, entirely fuss-free transaction in every Hertz location and on every occasion. I can understand that. In which case, the solution would surely be to not mention fuss at all, wouldn’t it? In fact, why are we even in the territory of fuss at all – the commercial was supposedly about the inability of some car rental firms to provide customers with cars to rent.
Clients can be a pain and briefs can be flimsy and the RACC can be heavy-handed, but there’s no excuse for lazy writing.