Last Updated Sep 16, 2010 3:43 PM EDT
"Underdog brand biographies are effective in the marketplace because consumers identify with the disadvantaged position of the underdog and share their passion and determination to succeed when the odds are against them," Keinan says.They are especially effective in difficult economic times, as demonstrated during the Great Depression.
Perhaps the most famous such campaign was initiated in the early 1960s by Avis, the car rental agency. Losing money and market share to industry leader Hertz, Avis worked with advertising giant DDB to turn the industry on its head with the message that "We are No. 2 so we have to try harder" campaign. A year later Avis was in the black and inside of three years its share had risen from 11% to 35%.
There were three keys to making that strategy work that you need to understand if you decide to go down this road, according to the Building Brands Web site.
- Upgrade your products and services before launching a single ad. Even great marketing won't sell crummy product.
- Answer the question, why should anyone buy a product from us? For Avis, the answer was, because we work harder.
- Get every employee involved. Avis workers received a copy of the new ads in their pay envelopes before each campaign was launched.
"Many brands emphasize their underdog roots, but if they are later acquired by large corporations, it diminishes the credibility of their underdog brand biographies. Brands such as Ben & Jerry's and Snapple have been criticized by consumers once they were acquired by large corporations."Just ask President Obama, who campaigned and won as an underdog. But now that he is top dog, the expectations of his customers have changed.
What are your favorite underdog brands? (I think Southwestern Airlines has done a terrific job positioning itself as a renegade against United.) Which ones have failed? (John McCain as a political outsider? Come on!)