is there a bus company brave enough to 'do a Skoda' with their advertising?

Around the turn of his century, it's fair to say perception of the Skoda brand in this country was pretty poor.

People knew they were cheap (they were), thought they were unreliable (historically they had been) and sort of knew they came from Czechoslovakia (wherever that was), so it wasn't hard to see why the showrooms were a little bare.

Yet just five years later, Skoda was selling over 30,000 units a year in the UK and, for the first time, there was a waiting list for the brand's cars. 2005 was turning out to be a good year.

So how did the turnaround happen?

Two things. First was Volkswagen increasing its minority stake. The second, according to Marketing Week, was convincing the brand to 'face its negative perceptions head-on, discount them pragmatically through humour and hold a mirror up to the blinkered car-buying public who, recognising the cold hard facts, would tacitly admit there was no good reason not to buy a Skoda'.

In simple terms, VW spent big to make the product a whole lot better and employed a great ad agency (Fallon) to come up with a long-term campaign to get across the agreed messaging in TV spots, like those shown below.

It takes balls to sign off this sort of strategy but as Del Boy said to his little brother "He who dares Rodders, he who dares..."

The similarities between perception of Skoda back in the day and many people's perception of bus travel today (whether you agree with them or not) are pretty obvious.

The question is, which bus company boss is going to be brave enough to admit their product might have some shortcomings and devise a communications strategy that faces them head-on?

He who dares Rodders, he who dares.