The RAC is breaking new ground by establishing a ‘virtual agency’ to run
its pounds 5 million account.
Jan Smith, the RAC group strategic director, is turning her back on a
conventional agency appointment and putting together her own ‘dream
team’ of creatives, planners and media specialists.
It is the boldest initiative by a major client to get a quality service
while cutting overheads since Coca-Cola began appointing hotshop
agencies outside its roster in 1991.
Smith’s plan involves a deal with Butterfield Day Devito Hockney which
will allow her to call on the services of Simon Green and John Dean, the
agency’s joint creative directors, and other members of the creative
Planning on the account will come from Red Spider, a virtual planning
agency established last year in Scotland by Charlie Robertson, the
former planning director of Bartle Bogle Hegarty and the Leith Agency.
The team will be completed by a media partner, which is tipped to be
Pattison Horswell Durden, the RAC’s media incumbent, and a creative
services specialist. The first ads under the new arrangements are set to
appear in the press this week.
Smith, who has responsibility for the RAC’s marketing, sales, membership
administration and customer services, could not be contacted for comment
as Campaign went to press.
However, an insider said: ‘Jan wants to cherry pick. As an experienced
client, she knows who she wants and she intends to meld them into a team
she can control.’
Smith began the process last month by instigating a review of the RAC’s
marketing strategy, casting doubts on Cogent’s ten-month tenure of its
The ‘virtual agency’ also reactivates the partnership between Smith,
Dean and Green, which was forged when Smith was the marketing director
The immediate problem posed by the new arrangement is how those taking
part will be remunerated. Butterfield Day is thought to be anxious not
to want to be seen to be hiring out staff by the hour.