NEWS: Smith selects an RAC dream team

The RAC is breaking new ground by establishing a ‘virtual agency’ to run its pounds 5 million account.

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

for Mazda.

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.