CLIENT OF THE WEEK: AA strategy moves skywards - Jade Garrett finds out why Bob Sinclair is ploughing pounds 14m into air ambulances

The Automobile Association announced last week that it has joined forces with the Association of Air Ambulance Services to help set up the country’s first national network of air ambulances.

The Automobile Association announced last week that it has joined

forces with the Association of Air Ambulance Services to help set up the

country’s first national network of air ambulances.



’Three of our sister motoring organisations across Europe already

operate emergency helicopter services,’ Bob Sinclair, the AA group

marketing director, explains, ’and it made sense that we started to

think about doing the same.’



The AA has already put pounds 14 million into the launch of two

helicopters which it expects to be mobile by the end of May, when

operational support should be in place. The long-term plan involves the

launch of a further seven helicopters. With this much air support, it

will be possible to assist victims all over the country.



The organisation is investing heavily in the new scheme and its logo is

prominent on the belly of the yellow helicopters - but how close a

partnership will it actually be? ’It’s not just a question of putting a

signature on a very large cheque,’ Sinclair says. ’This is patently a

sponsorship deal but we are talking very much in terms of support of the

ambulance service. An AA director will sit on the board and we have to

be satisfied with decisions that are made. We will be agreeing on what

areas the helicopters cover.’



But will all this new investment increase the cost of members’

subscriptions?



’Membership fees will not be affected,’ Sinclair says. ’New technology

investments that were made a few years ago have enabled us to invest

more money in marketing, in a broader sense. We are owned by our

members, so we had to be sure that we had their support in this.’



A new TV ad, created by HHCL & Partners, launches the service and aims

to increase public awareness of it. The commercial, which is shot from

the perspective of an accident victim, shows policemen, firemen and

paramedics discussing how little time there is to get him to hospital.

The AA helicopter then flies in and whisks him away for treatment.



The spot builds on the AA’s positioning as the country’s fourth

emergency service. The idea, Sinclair’s first campaign as group

marketing director - was launched in 1993 and has been successful in

increasing membership figures. ’When the campaign launched we had 7.2

million members,’ Sinclair says. ’Car ownership continues to increase

and now we have 9.5 million members compared with the RAC at 5.7 million

and Green Flag at just under three million.’



Naturally Sinclair is pleased with the results but doesn’t intend to

lend the tagline to the air ambulance work. ’The ’fourth emergency

service’ campaign is absolutely staying in place. It’s done a cracking

job, but there is no way we will be applying it to this initiative; it

wouldn’t be appropriate.’



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Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).