(Buberization) means everyone else is trying harder …

For years, car-rental giant Avis took their status as the second-largest company in the market as a badge of pride — proudly stating “We try harder” than the longtime leader, Hertz.

According to this Advertising Age piece:

The tagline was penned by DDB copywriter Paula Green and was actually rooted in the response that Bill Bernbach, the co-founder of DDB, helped elicit from company management when asking why anyone ever rents a car from them. “We Try Harder” then became a promise that Avis was making to consumers about the quality of its service, as well as a way to elevate the brand’s status despite being the second-largest car rental company behind Hertz.

The takeaway? Sometimes an idea is so crazy it just might work. And this tagline was fun, turned a weakness into a strength, and ultimately, made people like Avis.

Image of Martin Buber, who is NOT a ridesharing service, from the David B. Keidan Collection of Digital Images from the Central Zionist Archices.

Similarly, my client, ride-hailing company Fasten is competing against a giant of its own — I won’t name it other than to say it rhymes with the surname of philosopher Martin Buber, and moreso, its name is now part of a noun that defines the sharing economy.

Once again, I won’t name them, but many companies define themselves as the, um, “Martin Buber” of x, part of the “Martin Buberization” of the New, New Economy. (Author’s Note: I would love it if this concept of #Buberization would trend).

There are many reasons why Fasten, now operating in Boston and Austin, with more to come, is a great solution for ride-sharing —

  1. They treat their drivers as customers, not as a tool to get riders from a to b.
  2. They charge a flat to drivers rather than a commission-based fee.
  3. They don’t enforce surge pricing — instead, consumers who are in a rush can opt to “boost” how much they are willing to pay drivers. Note I said drivers — the cut to Fasten doesn’t change.

These are all well and good, but when you’re competing with a company that has users who say things like, “We should totally (Buber) over to the game,” you need to try harder. And be creative–and appeal to the local color of the cities in which you operate.

And in this case–it worked for BOTH Austin and Boston. Kevin Durant, who played a year at U-T Austin, then ten seasons with the Seattle Supersonics-OKC Thunder, is a free agent. One Celtics fans (like me) want, badly. So in this case, the company “tried harder” by:

  1. Coming up with a unique offer that would appeal to Bostonians
  2. Putting some actual horsepower behind it (artwork, a discount code, etc.)
  3. Having some fun …

So Fasten offered him free rides as long as he came to Boston (and allowed others to use a KD-specific code to get ride discounts).

Artwork from Fasten tweet

And it got the company some buzz, including:

Fasten Hops On Kevin Durant-To-Celtics Bandwagon With Free Rides Offer

International Business Times:  Kevin Durant To Boston? Fasten Offers Free Rides To Lure NBA Free Agent

And perhaps the one about which I was most excited, the Boston Globe “Sunday Basketball Notes” page (what I read first each Sunday)


Code KDTOBOSTON gets you $18 off your 1st ride. Durant in Boston gets us our 18th title!https://t.co/Xe355HGhLx pic.twitter.com/YKtKmMTi6O

— Fasten (@fasten) June 9, 2016

Another local company has offered Kevin Durant perks to sign with the Celtics. Fasten has offered Durant free rides if he comes to Boston, joining Legal Sea Foods, which offered Durant free crab legs — one of his favorite foods — if he decides to join the Celtics.

Was it goofy? Yes. By “trying harder,” did it get Fasten some buzz? Yes. Will KD come to Boston? Good God, I hope so.

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