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Avis is no longer committed to their pledge “We Try Harder,” according the 4A’s Smart Brief, below. I remember years ago when I was working in public affiars for Allstate when they tried to move away from their iconic slogan, “You’re in Good Hands with Allstate.” Well, the “Good Hands” people saw the light and went back to the words they were known by. I wonder how long it will take Avis to do the same?

Avis ends the era of “We Try Harder”
Avis is discarding its iconic, half-century-old tagline “We Try Harder,” as brand looks to target business travelers with a new line: “It’s Your Space.” Chief Marketing Officer Jeannine Haas, who has been in the job for about a year, defended the decision to drop one of the most successful taglines in history by saying the new tag is “reflective of [Avis’] ongoing mission to be a customer-led, service-driven company and presents the brand in terms of the customer experience.” Advertising Age (tiered subscription model)(8/27)


It was 89 years ago today that my grandfather, then a young druggist in Green Bay, Wisconsin, invested $100 for 20 shares (or 1.3% of capital stock) in a local football team called the Green Bay Packers. He framed his stock certificate out of civic and sporting pride and hung it in his den at home. Today, it hangs in my home office, along with my own stock certificate, which is equivalent to about 1,500 shares. while the market value of those shares has remained at zero through the years, the investment is worth millions in pride and tradition, for a little paper milling town that thought it could compete in the big leagues.



Bob Lutz, ex of GM, has written an interesting book called “Car Guys Vs. Bean Counters,” that talks about why it makes sense to let people with a passion for a given business run it, rather than turn it all over to the accountants and finance guys. That’s the way McDonald’s, my alumni group, has been run for most of its nearing 60 years.

My own early experience as a budding “car guy: for Toyota, largely peopled by really frustrated ex-US car guys, in the years when Detroit had lost its way, helps make Lutz’s point. My essay on that period — Acceleration — can be found by searching for that title at

Here’s Amazon’s summary of Lutz’s new book:

“It’s time to stop the dominance of the number-crunchers, living in their perfect, predictable, financially-projected world (who fail, time and again), and give the reins to the ‘product guys’…those with vision and passion for the customers and their product or service.”

When Bob Lutz got into the auto business in the early 1960s, CEOs knew that if you captured the public’s imagination with innovative car design and top quality craftsmanship, the money would follow. The “car guys” held sway, and GM dominated with bold, creative leadership and iconic brands like Cadillac, Buick, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, GMC, and Chevrolet.

But then GM’s leadership began to put their faith in numbers and spreadsheets. Determined to eliminate the “waste” and “personality worship” of the bygone creative leaders, and maximize profitability, management got too smart for its own good. With the bean counters firmly in charge, carmakers, and much of American industry, lost their single-minded focus on product excellence and their competitive advantage. Decline soon followed.

In 2001, General Motors hired Lutz out of retirement with a mandate to save the company by making great cars again. As vice chairman, he launched a war against the penny-pinching number-crunchers who ran the company by the bottom line, and reinstated a focus on creativity, design, and cars and trucks that would satisfy GM customers.

After emerging from bankruptcy in 2009, GM is finally back on track thanks in part to its embrace of Lutz’s philosophy, with acclaimed new models like the Chevrolet Volt, Cadillac CTS, Chevrolet Equinox, and Buick LaCrosse.

Lutz’s common-sense lessons, combined with a generous helping of fascinating anecdotes, will inspire readers in any industry. As he writes:
“It applies in any business. Shoe makers should be run by shoe guys, and software firms by software guys, and supermarkets by supermarket guys. With the advice and support of their bean counters, absolutely, but with the final word going to those who live and breathe the customer experience. Passion and drive for excellence will win over the computer-like, dispassionate, analysis- driven philosophy every time.”


That’s right, your vote in the November Presidential election probably won’t count if you vote in Illinois or Wisconsin!


Because the archaic Electoral College is where the President is really elected, and because of the College’s “winner-take-all” voting system,  the states that are reliably liberal or conservative are already in the bag for the respective candidates. That leaves the current nine battleground swing states, where the election could go either way, to determine our next President.

If you live in Illinois or Wisconsin, you do not, at this writing,  live in one of those crucial swing states that will almost certainly determine the next President. If you lived in CO, FL, NC, NH, NE, OH, PA, or VA, that’s where the candidates will focus their campaign appearances and spending. This could change before the election, but it probably won’t.

It’s too late to change the system before this Novermber’s election, but not before the next one. Google National Popular Vote for a discussion of how and why this is so, and what YOU can do about it. Make a difference for the future. Bring democracy back to America, while there is still time. You can matter, if you take action.

Isn’t it curious that the spacecraft that successfully landed on Mars last night is essentially a car, not unlike those self-powered contraptions pioneered by the likes of Henry Ford? Curiosity, as it is aptly named, will explore Mars as if it were an off-road jaunt off Route 66. Next time you go for a drive in your own car, just imagine!



Today, it is predicted that Oklahoma City can expect their highest recorded temperature — 114 — ever! Yet  cultural disinformation efforts designed to discredit 6,000 peer-reviewed studies that demonstrate that global climate change is rife persist. Not one such study demonstrates the opposite. There is not a comprehensive energy policy in the U.S., much less a climate change policy. Neither Presidential candidates mention climate change, much less make public warnings nor propose comprehensive initiatives related to climate change.

Yes, unemployment and economic disruption and erosion of education are major American issues. But without an effective strategy to reduce the negative effects of climate change, we are burying our head as to the future. None of these other issues will be solved with addressing climate change. One of the few leaders to address climate change through constructive analysis and positive proposals is senator John Kerry, in this address before Congress just yesterday. Take a listen:

Mr. Obama, Mr. Romney, please make climate change policy a priority, now! Humans are almost surely the cause, but even if we are only part of it, climate change is real, and we can act to moderate and reduce its effects on humanity, which there is still some time left.



My all-time blog hits on WordPress topped 25,000 sometime after last midnight, which may have been made possible partially by a new kind of people being called “Nocturnavores.”

This morning, I read a wonderful story about how McDonald’s ad agency in Columbus, Ohio, has coined the word “Nocturnavores” in reference to those customers seeking out “Breakfast After Midnight”.  McDonald’s now has some 127 restaurants in northern Ohio serving customers 24 hours a day, and offering breakfast after midnight, instead of after 5am. Thus, the breakfast “day part” is extended to 10 hours (midnight to 10am) at McDonald’s, reflecting and anticipating dining trends, especially among younger people.

The term “locavores” was coined several years ago to refer to people who choose to buy locally-grown food. The 2012 spring Ebeling PR-ize for cause-related public relations at Bradley University was won by a team that created a campaign called “The Peoria Locavores,” promoting locally-produced food in the Peoria, Illinois market.



2011 Top 10 Largest Chains (by latest-year sales)

McDonald's 1. McDonald’s – $34.17B
2. Subway – $11.43B
3. Starbucks Coffee – $8.49B
4. Burger King – $8.13B
5. Wendy‘s – $8.11B
6. Taco Bell – $7.00B
7. Dunkin’ Donuts – $5.93B
8. Pizza Hut – $5.50B
9. KFC – $4.60B
10. Applebee’s – $4.43B

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August 2012

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