Enterprise’s new way gets mixed reviews

Enterprise Rent-A-Car takes its new values to Canada, but will that get our motors running?

Enterprise Rent-A-Car has released a new TV campaign centred on the company’s values, which uses Canadian employees to spread the word about the “Enterprise Way.” The campaign diverges from the company’s long-time tack of spotlighting its “we’ll pick you up” service, which came to Canada when Enterprise first started advertising here in 2004.
Initially launched in the U.S., the new effort aims to stand out in a category where customers see little difference between companies via its focus on values like customer service and heritage.
Two of eight American TV ads, developed by St. Louis-based Cannonball, have been re-shot using Canadian employees. “Pretty Simple” focuses on Enterprise’s efforts to treat people the way they want to be treated, and “Listening” highlights how employees tailor customers’ experiences based on their needs. Enterprise has also produced a spot on its sponsorship of the NHL, making for six in total (three English, three French).
“We want to be very true to the brand and that’s the one thing, regardless of where you go, that’s the same,” says St. Louis-based Jim Stoeppler, brand director, Enterprise. “Our goal is to elevate the brand and really strive to make that emotional connection.”
We asked Jeremy Bell, partner, Teehan+Lax, and Tammy Cash, director of marketing, Front Street Capital, whether Enterprise’s effort will hit the mark north of the border and what they might have done differently.

Overall strategy
Bell: If the strategy was to differentiate itself, I’d argue that Enterprise missed the mark. A quick visit to the Avis website reveals they are running a very similar campaign (“We’re in the business of treating people like people. Real renters, real employees, real stories.”) with a series of commercials much like these new Enterprise spots.
Cash: The Enterprise campaign has an aw-shucks, folksy appeal, which works well.  It’s a good fit, given their personal service-based business. It stands out in a market segment that’s saturated with price-driven, commodity-oriented ads. Changing their approach to focus on core values will resonate with consumers.  Using actual employees, who are delivering the message in an informal/approachable manner, will help foster trust and connection with the audience.

Campaign elements
Bell: Aesthetically and tonally, these commercials are vastly superior to previous campaigns run by Enterprise. They aren’t especially entertaining, but they do succeed in painting the brand in an honest and friendly light. However, the final voiceover ruins the atmosphere – the delivery seems disingenuous.
Cash: Although there is plenty of strong messaging, the piece has the potential to run flat rather quickly. After you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.  Adding some humour or focusing on the individual human experiences would help keep the campaign appealing over the long run. It might also be more impactful with music that has a broader familiarity and perhaps something a bit edgier, so that the softhearted caring feel of the campaign doesn’t become too saturated.

What would you do?
Bell: I think the American versions would have been effective if run in Canada as is (the Avis similarities not withstanding), and instead I would have put the production budget towards updates on Enterprise.ca. Their current website contradicts the tone of these commercials, causing any newly created brand value to evaporate as visitors enter a dated, impersonal experience. The simple addition of lifestyle imagery and a link to the American commercials would help construct a more cohesive brand platform.
Cash: While it may be true that the experience Enterprise offers customers is universal, simply re-shooting the U.S. ads runs the risk of underestimating the Canadian identity.  As Canadians, we don’t consider ourselves to be Americans, we never will.  While I believe the campaign will be well received, I would feature well-known Canadian music and landmarks as well as re-shooting with Canadian employees.