Colorado AAA Rides With Newcomer

LOS ANGELES The American Automobile Association of Colorado has selected startup Cameron Christopher Thomas Advertising as its agency, the shop said.

CCT’s selection follows a two-month review that originally included 12 agencies. In addition to CCT, the other finalists were Omnicom’s Karsh & Hagan and independents Cactus Communications, Morey Evans and MRW & Associates, all in Denver, the client said. As part of the agreement, Linhart McClain Finlon in Denver will assist with public relations projects. Caroline Watson Media Services of Denver will handle media planning and buying.

Billings were undisclosed. AAA spent just under $20 million on ads overall last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. Spending for the club in Colorado was not available.

CCT in Denver is charged with raising awareness for AAA Colorado by promoting the association’s automotive services, travel, insurance and financial products and services. “We want people to know that they offer more value than just roadside assistance,” said CCT partner Tom Leydon, noting that AAA has a relationship with 49,000 retailers in Colorado. The shop’s first ads for AAA are expected to break in January 2004.

“We felt we had a lot of things in place—quality service in our offices and in the field with our roadside assistance. We have the technology in place, we have the products and services in place,” said Victoria Stark, senior vice president of operations at AAA Colorado in Denver. “The one thing we haven’t done is tell everyone what we do in a consistent way.”

The association previously used a “shotgun” approach to advertising and did not have a consistent message across product lines, said Stark. It previously handled advertising in-house, she said.

CCT was selected due to its technical abilities such as research capabilities, as well as its efficiency and creative capabilities and appreciation of the depth and breadth of AAA’s products, Stark said.

CCT opened in January. In addition to Leydon, who is a copywriter, partners Cameron Bridges, who is an art director, and Christopher Clemens, who is director of account services, lead the five-person shop. CCT’s clients also include HealthOne Hospitals, the Colorado Department of Transportation, TSN Distribution, Swedish Medical Center and Juga Restaurants.