In 2014, the AA was crowned Britain's Most Trusted brand by Brand Asset Valuator. Core business metrics showed impressive financials in the face of rising membership costs and slashed marketing expenditure. This was the result of a direct mail media approach and a steadfast focus on retention of existing members. The AA had eschewed the expensive and imprecise world of brand communications, focusing instead on cross-selling to its huge member base - an efficient approach with impressive profits.
But this short-termist approach worried the team, who began to dig deeper…and in doing so, revealed an entirely different story: brand awareness and every single tracking metric had softened to the point that 60% no longer agreed that the AA was the nation's best breakdown provider, and 8% claimed never to have heard of the brand; new business was in decline as were the prices that new customers were willing to pay – the AA customer base was haemorrhaging fast – for every 16 new members the brand gained, it lost 20. Essentially, the AA's marketing strategy was marching them towards a commercial precipice.