FCB, Washington AAA: Don’t Let This Happen to You

FCB is trying to boost membership in the Washington branch of AAA with a few pointed reminders of the horrors that can befall drivers.

The $3 million campaign—the Seattle agency’s third for the client—features print ads inspired by the personal experiences of FCB creatives.

“When things go wrong, we all want to take matters into our own hands,” said art director Andy Nordfors. “But that rarely works. People put [joining AAA] off until something happens. Then they think, ‘Oh crap.’ ”

Ed Davids, client vp of marketing and communications, said the auto club is often a neglected resource. “The basic thrust of the ads is to show people trying to solve their car problem without AAA,” he said. “Emergency roadside service is our strength, and that’s what we’re concentrating on.”

One ad, for example, shows an angry motorist after a car tow gone wrong. He glares at his bumper, which is lying on the ground with two tow-lines wrapped around it. The ropes are tethered to the hood of a large sedan jutting into the frame. Text reads, “Whether you break down or run out of gas, there’s no better solution than AAA.”

Evidently, the target audience understands such pain. As directors staged the scene for the ad, a passerby offered his services to help tow the sedan. “We’ve all been in that situation,” said Mary Knight, FCB executive creative director.

Another ad has a motorist bumming a ride to a gas station in the back of a pickup he shares with two sheep. A third ad features the familiar image of smoke billowing out from underneath the hood of a car—a jumpstart gone awry.

All told, the campaign features six print ads plus radio spots, including “pump-topper” displays on gas pumps.

“Radio has worked well for us, and this year we decided to try something new,” said Davids.

The pump-toppers will be used through May; print and radio will run through August.

FCB also handles media on the account.