8 Shops Chase Auto Club Project

The Automobile Club of Southern California plans to begin using an umbrella branding strategy and has launched a creative and media review for the assignment.

The 102-year-old organization, based in Los Angeles and an affiliate of the American Automobile Association, said the account involves advertising in four states and is budgeted at $5-10 million.

The auto club has sent RFPs to eight shops that have a Southern California presence, said Michael Johnson, client vp of marketing and product management.

Agencies that received the RFP include Grey in Los Angeles, which has worked with the client for about seven years on public-service announcements and direct response (through Grey Direct); Foote, Cone & Belding and Young & Rubicam, both in Irvine; Mendelsohn/Zien in Los Angeles; and Rubin Postaer and Associates in Santa Monica, sources said. Johnson confirmed that those shops received the RFP but declined to name the others under consideration.

“We have a pretty compelling story, but we lack a long-term um brella brand strategy,” Johnson said. “We’re looking for unique, innovative ways to communicate our value to our membership.”

While the auto club’s main focus has been roadside assistance, it is looking to promote to members and nonmembers the breadth of its products and services, including insurance, travel, automotive and financial services, Johnson said.

In addition to the Auto Club of Southern California, the branding campaign may be picked up by the AAA groups in Texas, New Mexico and Hawaii, each of which operates independently, said Johnson. Combined, the four organizations comprise roughly 16 percent of AAA’s national membership of 45 million people, he said.

Responses to the RFP are due by the end of this month. The client will cut to four shops by mid-October and, following presentations, plans to select an agency by mid-November.

Grey’s work for the auto club has included traffic-safety PSAs. One such ad showed people recklessly steering their shopping carts through a supermarket as a voice over questions why people would behave that way on the road if they don’t do so in a store.

“We are very proud of the traffic-safety public-service announcements we’ve done for the auto club over the past couple of years, and we’re thrilled they’re now giving some thought to additional funding for brand advertising,” said Grey president and COO John Crosson. “We look forward to the chance to possibly expand our role with them.”