Hertz Tries Harder

Car renters can expect to see a whole new Hertz next year. The car rental giant is set to completely revamp its corporate identity. The effort includes a new logo, ads, uniforms, cars added to its fleet and remodeled rental locations.

Hertz said the impetus behind the massive makeover, which has been 18 months in the making, is the desire to make the brand more contemporary and approachable. “It was no small decision,” said Mike Senackerib, CMO, Hertz.

While consumers had grown to rely on the 91-year-old company for speed, selection and delivery, what was missing was the emotional element, said Senackerib. New communications will attempt to rectify that. Next year, Hertz will break a campaign themed “Journey on” from DDB, New York. The ads will show consumers that “we understand what they need, what’s in their world and in their life,” said Senackerib. “We understand the journey they are on when they take a trip and how they can have the best experience because it came from Hertz. It’s a great platform to connect with them emotionally.”

Hertz has its work cut out for it. Differentiating within the car rental space “is a challenge because it’s such a commodity,” said Diane Clarkson, travel analyst, Jupiter Research. “To capitalize on that emotional aspect, the family getaway, freedom, getting away from it all, is a wide open space.”

The campaign will get its kickoff compliments of George Clooney. Hertz inked a product placement deal to appear in his holiday film Up in the Air. The film revolves around Clooney’s journey to collect one million frequent flier miles.


One of the first print ads reads: “Reserve some whoa. The Corvette ZHZ will stop you in your tracks.” The car is painted the same color yellow as the new company logo. Gone is the two decades-old logo with its 3-D blocky, shadowed lettering. Instead the word Hertz is spelled out in black using a more modern font against a yellow backdrop. Landor Associates handled the redesign. Iris and Leibowitz Gould Design have been hired to put the brand identity and new style guidelines in place.

Hertz will attempt to own yellow across all of its communications. Whether it is its buses, locations or uniforms, “we have a great opportunity to paint the world yellow,” said Senackerib.

Hertz isn’t the first. DHL, Stanley, DeWalt, Lance Armstrong’s Live Strong and even McDonald’s golden arches have all built their brands around the color. “It’s an interesting concept. Others have done it, but with enough money you can do anything,” said Warren Church, vp at the branding agency Deskey. “It’s about who talks the loudest.”

Senackerib would not reveal how much Hertz will spend in 2010, other than to say, “There will be a robust increase. The new campaign, new corporate identity, there is a lot to communicate. It’s important that everyone is exposed to it. It takes a couple of dollars to do that.”

Hertz spent $29 million on media last year, per The Nielsen Co. For the first eight months of this year it has spent only $4 million.

The company has felt the sting of the recession like others in the travel category. In the second quarter, its $1.8 billion in worldwide revenues represented a 22.9 percent decrease year over year. Since then, however, “business improved over the summer, and in September and October leisure travel has been doing very well,” said Senackerib.