New CEO Chris Jansen, a former British Gas executive, says: “We are delighted that Britain’s most trusted brand has hired Britain’s most creative agency to help polish and promote our brand beyond breakdown.
“While our roadside recovery is at the heart of what we do, we do much more. We believe we should be showing our members how we can help in their everyday adventures.”
These adventures may include buffing up the AA, a venerable organisation founded as the Automobile Association in 1905, for a stock market flotation. Private equity owner Acromas recently floated the AA’s one-time sister company Saga for £2.1bn, a disappointing result as it hoped for a valuation of about £3bn.
The AA makes more money than Saga (about £400m as opposed to £250m) but is burdened with even more debt following Acromas’s purchase of the two at the height of the market in 2007 for a decidedly toppy £6.2bn.
A&E/DDB is best-known for its John Lewis work and it’s easy to see the attraction of such an emotional approach to the AA, which still has a place of sorts in British hearts having helped to start just about everyone’s car on a frosty morning at some stage in their lives.
But the roadside assistance market is under pressure as today’s cars, even though there are a lot more of them, don’t break down so often, there are value competitors like Green Flag and many people get cover through their bank accounts.
So the AA is a challenging task for A&E/DDB but the agency is on a roll with bags of self-confidence, in sharp contrast to the rather bedraggled DDB before the merger with A&E in 2012.