Brand of the Day: National Car Rental Meets its Toughest Customer in Patrick Warburton

New spokesperson wants control, and gets it

Headshot of Kristina Monllos

Next time you're stuck on a slow-moving line at the airport car-rental desk, fantasize that you're Patrick Warburton. Over 6 feet tall and built like a mountain, Warburton also has the kind of sonorous basso that demands (and gets) control of a situation. This thinking was no doubt in the minds of National Car Rental, which cast the 50 year-old actor—a human cartoon of the power-suited boss—in its latest spots.

It's not a bad approach, considering all the stuff that can wrong when you rent a car, and that most travelers fantasize about breezing past the line at the rental counter completely. That's exactly what Warburton does, too. National CMO Pat Farrell said that "having control when you're out there dealing with planes, trains and automobiles" is "helpful." Amen to that. In fact, shortening the distance between the plane and car has been a perennial quest for auto-rental brands for decades now. (Just watch the inimitable O.J. Simpson flying through the airport to his Hertz vehicle in this 1978 spot.)

Warburton is in fact the second Patrick to provide pipes for National. Sir Patrick Stewart has done voiceovers for the brand since 2011, using the same four-star-general tone that Warburton has. Maybe the era of no-bull car rental has finally arrived.

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On Twitter the brand has been doing weekly chats with the hashtag #GoLikeAPro. While most of the feedback seems to be positive, the hashtag does make it easy for annoyed patrons to post quips about the brand. 

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Warburton's brand of humor in being a "Control Enthusiast" would probably be obnoxious were it not for the universally shared agonies of getting through an airport.

Fast Facts

  • In 1947 a group of 24 independent car rental shops got together to form National Car Rental. Though, it wasn't until 1959 that they incorporated as a for-profit corporation. 
  • National was the first car rental brand to offer one-way rentals in 1954. 
  • The brand is part of the Enterprise Holding company which operates the Enterprise, National and Alamo car rental brands. 
@KristinaMonllos Kristina Monllos is a senior editor for Adweek.