These seven :15 second spots all feature short funny situations, many of which are embarrasing or just plain mean. All start with the caption “The Quickest ____” where the blank is everything from Game of Charades (a hairy guy starts to stand up and play and someone guesses “Planet of the Apes” correctly) to Job Interview (a woman knocks over a hand-built sailing ship as she shakes her prospective boss’s hand). After the setup, we see another screen saying “The Quickest Way to Rent from National.” Then we see a car leaving a National Car Rental lot as the voiceover says, “With the Emerald Club, you can bypass the counter, choose your own car and get an e-receipt. National. Green means go.”
These spots are all funny and the pace is brisk. The brevity is helpful and keeps our attention. The campaign is very consistent and National Car Rental fans will certainly recognize it.
As our loyal readers know, this advertising blog believes humor is a very tricky tool for advertisers. Used properly, it can reinforce the brand positioning and create a memorable spot tied to a memorable brand. More commonly, very good humor overshadows the commercial message and wastes the money spent. This campaign is a good example of the second case. All of these spots are funny, but the link between ‘quick disaster’ and ‘quick car rental’ is shallow and flimsy. There is no branding in the first half of the spot.
The brand positioning for National is also questionable in this spot. National must be talking to its own customer base, because it is advertising a standard category benefit (Emerald Club direct-to-car is a clone of Hertz #1 Club gold and similar programs from other agencies). There is no superiority claim made here, which is an odd strategy for a brand which is not in the top three in its category. If Emerald is indeed speaking to frequent Emerald renters, trying to keep them loyal then television would seem to be a foolishly expensive medium given the relatively small number of targets and the fact that Emerald can already reach them through direct mail, during a rental or in other more efficient ways.
Finally, it should be said that some of these spots are just mean. That does not reflect well on a brand which is in no way linked to a counter-culture.
Branding Bottom Line
National Car Rental takes the wrong lesson from Desperate Housewives