A look outside the water
by Luisa Scarlata

Why it’s better to be a number two.

Why it’s better to be a number two.

For the last four years I entered a creative writing contest (Brevis). I won the first place just one time. The other three times I won the second place. Of course I was annoyed about that: why am I not able to reach again the highest spot on the podium? – I asked myself. Then I remembered the famous, great Avis campaign made in 1962 by Bill Bernbach: “The Avis number two” campaign.

In 1962 in the United States Hertz was the car rental leader. Avis called Bill Bernbach at Doyle Dane Bernbach. Bernbach put art director Helmut Krone and writer Paula Green on the project, and they created …a masterpiece.

“Avis is only No.2 in rent a cars. So we try harder”. The truth inside this idea was absolutely powerful: Avis had to do everything better than Hertz to win customers. Because when you are not the greatest, you have to. You can’t take anything for granted. You can’t make mistakes. “The No.1 attitude is: Don’t do the wrong thing. Don’t make mistakes and you’ll be ok. The No.2 attitude is: Do the right thing. Look for new ways. Try harder.”

Now I’m happy to be a number two. Thanks, Bill. I’ll try harder.

Last updated

December 8th, 2011