The Secret Marketer

Our ‘man on the inside’ provides a view from the top of the marketing tree

I am on holiday. And still thinking about marketing. Thanks to marketers shouting about “staycations”, car hire operators have apparently underestimated the demand in Spain for vehicles, predicting that we would sunbathe in Bolton rather than the Balearics.

Brits are still flying to hotter climates and car hire businesses have been unable to react to a surge in non-staycation demand as there are simply not enough Seats in Ibiza at the right time.

This year, I prebooked my car hire online and filled out extra forms to enable “fasttrack” check-in. I shouldn’t have bothered as the fasttrack desk was away on siesta when I arrived at Avis. Or maybe that was Hertz or should that be Europcar? I can’t actually remember and, logos apart, this sector provides a masterclass in how to avoid any form of compelling brand differentiation.

While the hire brands may struggle with differentiation, they never fail to disappoint with their approach to selling insurance. Rarely can an industry make you feel so pressured, annoyed and conned before you even drive off to begin your holiday.

After excess hard selling and more credit card swipes than I care to remember, I grabbed the keys and headed off to retrieve my VW Polo. Parked in its place was what I can only describe as a cross between a private ambulance and a transit van with extra windows.

To my horror, I had been “upgraded” to a Dacia Logan MCV. The Dacia is a triumph in ugly design, which would command an entire episode or perhaps even a series of abuse from the Top Gear team if it were ever selected for a feature review. I have since done some research on Dacia and discovered that this in fact is the Romanian budget division of Renault – as not driven in the marketing of the brand by Papa, Nicole or Thierry Henry.

Given that I do not have a family of eight, the Dacia was not my idea of an appropriate upgrade. I instead insisted I was downgraded to anything else with four wheels. Gracias Senor Hertz, Avis or whoever it was that I booked with. I wish you an unprofitable summer and hope that you miss your bonus targets for rogue insurance upsells and are awarded a company Dacia for your efforts. Hasta luego.

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