RAC puts brake on ad strategy

The RAC is to drop its unconventional approach to marketing by dissolving its virtual agency system and replacing marketing director Jan Smith with Littlewoods’ former marketing chief, Findlay Cordwell.

The RAC is to drop its unconventional approach to marketing by

dissolving its virtual agency system and replacing marketing director

Jan Smith with Littlewoods’ former marketing chief, Findlay


The company is calling a full review of its advertising and media

requirements, which are currently carried out by a small team of

freelance planners and account handlers and a creative team at Partners

BDDH. Incumbent media agency The Media Business Group has already

resigned its account.

The shake-up follows a radical repositioning of the RAC brand as a broad

transport management service earlier this year.

The changes also involved a massive re-branding programme, which saw the

traditional RAC crown logo replaced with a more futuristic one, and a

pounds 4m TV campaign using austere documentary-style ads.

The strategy has been criticised for failing to close the gap between

the RAC, which has six million members, and its rival the AA, which has

nine million.

Sources also suggest that internal research conducted by the RAC has

found its members were unhappy with its new, futuristic branding and

would prefer a warmer image.

Smith, who has a reputation as a marketing maverick, announced she was

to leave the RAC in October. Cordwell will join the company in January,

as Smith exits, and is expected to develop more conventional ads

targeting a broader spectrum of consumers. The RAC has already ended its

contract with members of its ’virtual’ ad agency.

A spokeswoman for the RAC refused to confirm the identity of the

company’s new marketing director but said a creative and media agency

review was already under way.

’Our current suppliers fulfilled the job they were brought in to do and

the virtual agency’s contract has been finished,’ said the


’If we have a new marketing director it will be his responsibility to

look at our media opportunities.’

The RAC’s relationship with its below-the-line agency, Lowe Direct, will

remain unchanged.


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