AA hints at account review in effort to revitalise brand

HHCL & Partners could lose its £9.5 million AA account if it

fails to see eye-to-eye with the AA's owner, Centrica, about the

strategic future of the brand.



The AA is meeting with HHCL, which has held the account for more than

seven years, to discuss plans for future advertising. The agency is

thought to have been told that if its ideas do not match those of the

AA, then the account will be put up for pitch.



Centrica's group marketing director, Simon Waugh, is not believed to be

unhappy with work from HHCL, but said the company's plans to revitalise

the brand might mean that the account will change hands.



Recent AA television ads feature a stressed-out couple bickering about

their insurance needs, as well as the roadside assistance spots

featuring a man who meets a former girlfriend when her car breaks down

and she calls the AA.



The most recent campaign for roadside help adopted a more aggressive

approach, and the spots featured a crying teenager and her mother

lamenting the fact she had not joined the AA.



Centrica bought the AA in 1999 to join its British Gas and Goldfish

banking and utilities arms, and is also planning to launch a mobile

phone service, giving members access to the wealth of information it

owns.



The possible review comes as the AA's marketing departments for

financial services, breakdown, e-commerce and publishing are merged to

prevent any further dilution of the core brand.



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