Advertising: Trying Harder

It began with some casual questioning. Robert C. Townsend, the president of Avis, Inc., was talking with his advertising agency about ways to boost Avis rent-a-car business, which trailed far behind Hertz in the car-rental field. Were Avis' cars newer than Hertz's? asked the admen. No. More rental locations? No. Lower rates? Nope. Wasn't there some difference between the two? "Well," said Townsend, thinking for a moment, "we try harder." Lights flashed. Bugles blared. Sirens wailed. Thus was launched one of Madison Avenue's most successful ad campaigns, whose slogans—Avis Is Only No. 2, We Try Harder—rapidly worked their...