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    Tom Dougherty CEO, Stealing Share

    Tom Dougherty is the President and CEO of Stealing Share, Inc., and has helped national and global brands such as Lexus, IKEA and Tide steal market share over his 25-year career.

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National Car Rental shows how to do it right

If you caught any of the PGA championship yesterday, you saw Rory McIlroy come back to win the tournament in impressive fashion, golf played in near darkness and one of the more effective ads I’ve seen in quite some time.

National Car Rental unveiled one that showed a golf pro teaching the hackers like me to play, all the while the narrator tells him (us) that he’s a pro. A businessman. A professional.

National Car RentalOnce he shows up at National, he can pick out the car he wants because he’s a preferred member with the ad ending with “Go like a Pro.”

There are missteps. I could’ve done without the golf pro, seeing the car he likes, saying, “Nice drive.” A little too clever and the tone is a tad off at the end, but the ad follows the basic tenet of all marketing: Be an emotional reflection of your target audience. A tenet many marketers simply miss.

Being a golf pro, of course, fits into the time slot in which it aired. But it’s more than that. A large percentage, maybe even most, of car rentals go to the business traveler, “the pro” of the ad. It isn’t just enough to have a businessperson in the ad, so the “go like a pro” suggests that you know exactly how to do it.

The ad was designed to promote National’s app that allows you, as the pro, to bypass the counter and go directly to a car of your choice. Of course, all rental car outlets let their members bypass the counter (unless there’s a problem) but the feature of picking your own car is new.

The first question you might ask is, “How can National do that?” It’s simple. Because it knows you are a pro. You know what you’re doing, the emotional element for most business travelers.

For those of us who travel for business, we lament the people in front of us at airport security who seem clueless at how to get their belongings and themselves through. We feel expert when we arrive at the car rental with our membership, and even when we collect points at the hotel.

National’s ad builds on that self-perception. It’s not often that I applaud a new ad. But that’s because few ever really get it, even when it is so simple.

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