We are number two but we try harder: the underdog narrative of progressivism

Othmar's Trombone

“It can be good to start with a shipwreck. Your ideal authors ought to pull you from the foundering of your previous existence, not smilingly guide you into a friendly and peaceable harbour.”

Christopher Hitchens,  Hitch-22

In 1962, advertising executive Paula Green came up with a slogan for Avis car rentals that is still used today: ‘We try harder.’ It was based on the premise that they were not the ‘top dogs’ in the industry but “a No.2 company”, and that “[w]hen you’re a challenger brand, you have to constantly try harder for every customer and can’t afford to offer anything less than great customer service.”

Avis - 'We are No. 2 so we try harder'In creating this campaign, Green established what is now known as an underdog brand biography – a rhetorical device used by companies “that chronicles the brand’s origins, life experiences, and evolution over time in a selectively constructed story”, often of “humble beginnings, hopes and dreams…

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