How Avis Brilliantly Pioneered Underdog Advertising With ‘We Try Harder’

David Angelo picks his three favorite ads

The true test of a great piece of advertising, for David&Goliath founder and chairman David Angelo, is something that’s timeless and resonates with people long after it’s been released into the world.

For Angelo, the perfect example is Avis’ “We Try Harder” campaign.

It debuted in 1962 when Avis was struggling to keep up with the No. 1 brand in the car rental category, Hertz. Avis turned to Doyle Dane Bernbach for help. The agency created a campaign that allowed Avis to not compete with its competitor, but embrace its second-place status.

Angelo, who chose “We Try Harder” as one of his three favorite campaigns ever, believes it was “one of the first real challenger brand campaigns out there, next to Volkswagen, of course.”

“If brands just had the courage to be authentic and own up to who they are and show their sort of shortcomings, I think people would be a lot more forgiving and would definitely, definitely step up and be ambassadors for the brand because of their honesty,” Angelo said.

Another campaign demonstrating a brand’s courage, and Angelo’s second favorite ad, is Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign. “I love seeing and feeling the heart and soul of a brand. I really believe that the world desperately needs that authenticity,” Angelo said of the long-running work.

For his final pick, Angelo didn’t select a campaign per se but a brand, Apple, for being “consistently brilliant.” From “1984” to “Here’s to the Crazy Ones,” Apple surprises and delights with its creative work time and time again, he said.

“Just over time to watch the consistency of that brand, it has never missed a step,” Angelo said. “It just goes back to the core of what Apple stands for, and Apple is all about thinking different.”

Hear more from Angelo about the work that inspires him in the video above. Plus, the David&Goliath founder and chairman shares some of his favorite work coming out of his agency at the moment.

Check out all of Adweek’s “Best Ads Ever” videos here.