Trust. A word business people often use without understanding what it actually means. So what is trust when it comes to business relationships? It’s knowing when to shut the fuck up and knowing when not to shut the fuck up. When Avis hired DDB to do the “We try harder” campaign, Avis CEO Robert Townsend defined the following standards.
Avis Rent a Car Advertising Philosophy
- Avis will never know as much about advertising as DDB and DDB will never know as much about the rent a car business as Avis.
- The purpose of the advertising is to persuade the frequent business renter (whether on a business trip, a vacation trip, or renting an extra car at home) to try Avis.
- A serious attempt will be made to create advertising with five times the effectiveness (see #2 above) of the competition’s advertising.
- To this end, Avis will approve or disapprove, not try to improve, ads which are submitted. Any changes suggested by Avis must be grounded on a material operating defect (a wrong uniform for example).
- To this end, DDB will only submit for approval those ads which they as an agency recommend. They will not “see what Avis thinks of this one.”
- Media selection should be the primary responsibility of DDB. However, DDB is expected to take the initiative to get guidance from Avis in weighting of markets or special situations, particularly in those areas where cold numbers do not indicate the real picture. Media judgments are open to discussion. The conviction should prevail. Compromise should be avoided.
This philosophy set the foundation for a healthy client/agency relationship. Built on trust because each party acknowledged the other party’s expertise. Would this philosophy still hold true today, half a century later? Sure, the principles are timeless. Just shake hands and let these principles guide your collaboration. Nobody loses, everybody wins.