The book says: marketing strategy depends on your position in the market. If you’re No. 2 you use different strategy than when you’re No. 1 or 3.
Avis was No. 2 in car rental and when they advertised as “finest in rent-a-cars” they had losses because their marketing wasn’t credible (you can’t be “finest” being No. 2).
They had profit when they switched to “Avis is only No. 2 in rent-a-cars. So why go with us? We try harder”.
Then they had another disastrous campaign when they started claiming “Avis is going to be No. 1”.
My comment: I agree with the premise (kind of marketing depends on your position in the market). However the book says very little about what kind of strategy one should use in a given position (except for a few examples). Additionally their examples feel like they oversimplify complex reality. Even assuming that the data about e.g. Avis is fully correct (i.e. that there is strong correlation between Avis profits and the kind of marketing campaign) I find it hardly unlikely that there’s a causality relationship. I don’t think that good or bad marketing champaign can make or break a company. I can see how this point of view can be attractive for marketing people but I would think that success depends on more factors. Marketing might be an important factor but certainly not a dominant one.
See also Eric’s take