Tuesday, January 9, 2024


In the 1960s, the Avis car rental company was having a difficult time competing with Hertz, the number one rental car company in the United States. Being a smaller fish in the rental car pond, Avis developed a revolutionary ad campaign. They put out an ad that stated, "When you're only No. 2, you try harder. Or else." Below the headline was a drawing of a little scared fish swimming away from a big fish. Avis was being vulnerable and honest. Communicating a message that they will work harder than their competitors to get and keep your business. Because without working hard, they would simply be gobbled up by the bigger fish.

Was admitting they were number two a stupid move? Not at all. They created empathy in their audience. We root for the underdogs, especially if we know they are persistent and will never give up. And yes, after the ad ran for a year.

Avis became the number one car rental agency in America. Customers wanted to help Avis become number one.

To me, if anything- this story tells a lot about power of authenticity. If I have to pick only a few learnings, it would be these:

1. It's not the perfection that creates likability and authenticity, but instead, vulnerability and persistence.

2. Performance isn't solely based on strengths or talent, but also on being genuine, humane and relatable.

3. Being vulnerable is very different from being self-deprecating. People won't root for you if you play the martyr and belittle yourself. Instead share how you tried something new, failed, and learned.

4. Optics is defined as a situation in which a person or organization worries about the public perception of a decision more than the substance of the decision itself. Arguably worrying about Optics is necessary in some situations but that cannot be the prime goal. Avis, in above example, let go of the 'Optics over everything' tendency, instead chose 'Authenticity over everything' philosophy.

What do you think ?

LinkedIn Post: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/anujmagazine_less-optics-more-authenticity-in-the-1960s-activity-7041769859747127296-NFtW/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=member_desktop

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