6 Sylvan Way
Parsippany, New Jersey 07054
Telephone: (973) 496-3500
Fax: (973) 496-7999
Web site: www.budget.com
In 2005 Budget Rent A Car System, Inc., a key unit, with Avis, of the Cendant Car Rental Group, made its first foray into advertising on blogs (website digests typically maintained by one person or a small group of people). Blogs often focused on specific topics and thus attracted niche audiences, and they were known for their conversational tone and opinionated content. With a collective readership estimated at more than 30 million in 2005 and with extremely low advertising rates compared to TV, print, and traditional online placements, blogs represented an exciting, if relatively untested, opportunity for marketers. The Budget campaign, called "Up Your Budget," ran in October and November 2005 and represented one of the most notable marketing uses of this new medium to that date.
At the center of "Up Your Budget" was a series of treasure hunts in 16 American cities that took place during the campaign's four-week run. Information about the treasure hunts, each of which offered a cash prize of $10,000, was accessible only at the website www.upyourbudget.com, which took the form of a blog, and contest participants were enlisted in the further creation of the site's content. The event was advertised with flash-animation cartoons placed on 177 of the most popular blogs of the time; those placements cost approximately $20,000 to run, bringing the campaign's total budget to approximately $180,000. This amount was less than the cost of airing a single commercial on a top prime-time TV program. There was no off-line publicity of the event.
The campaign was well received within the realm of blogs (the so-called blogosphere), and www.upyourbudget.com drew more than 100,000 unique visitors over the four weeks that the contests ran. While the Budget campaign was believed to point the way toward the future of blog advertising, Cendant executives acknowledged the difficulty of judging whether a blog campaign was a marketing success or not, given the medium's newness and its dissimilarity to traditional marketing channels. Nevertheless, Budget planned to continue its blog-centered marketing efforts.
Founded in 1958 as a car-rental agency targeting value-conscious travelers, Budget Rent A Car expanded rapidly over the next several decades. In the 1980s and 1990s the company changed hands twice, and in 2002 it was acquired by Cendant Corporation, a global group of companies concentrated in the travel and real-estate industries. Cendant also owned the car-rental company Avis, a key component, with Budget, of the Cendant Car Rental Group.
In the 1990s and 2000s the advertising industry found its primary communication models threatened by a convergence of trends that were reshaping consumers' relationships to media outlets. Among the most noticeable of these trends was the increasing importance of the Internet to consumers' business, personal, and social lives. The Internet both upset traditional notions of marketing and offered an abundance of new advertising possibilities. One promising new outlet for online advertising was the blogosphere, the collective world of online blogs. A blog (the word was short for Weblog) was a website typically created by one person or a small group of people as a forum for personal expression or discussion on a particular topic (e.g., U.S. politics, contemporary literature, or celebrity gossip), with frequently updated postings whose content was often derived from and/or linked to other...