AA ‘quirky’ TV ad campaign begins today
Lost keys at a naturist camp. Diplomat’s car skewered by bollards in Whitehall. Wrong fuel in a ‘push me-pull you’ car with two ‘fronts’. Rising tide around an ice cream van. German armoured carrier gone kaput. In its 110-year history, AA patrols have seen it all…and then some.
These quirky call-outs, based on true stories, are among those featured in the AA’s new TV advertising campaign, which kicks off on Thursday (18 June). The TV adverts and radio campaign show the depth, breadth, expertise and quality of service offered by AA patrols. Attending around 10,000 breakdowns a day means it’s far more than just flat batteries for the UK’s biggest breakdown provider.
The naturist camp story in the TV advert is based on real ‘naked’ breakdowns.
In one, AA patrol Mike Giddens from Surrey was called to a job where the member had locked his keys in his 4×4. Nothing unusual about that, it happens all the time. What made this job different was its location. For the car, and of course the owner, were at a naturist club in Buckinghamshire.
The AA operational centre called Mike to make sure he was ok with the job. He was met by the owner of the 4×4, who was wearing just a shirt and carrying a tennis racket.
The keys were locked in the car but because the car was deadlocked it took him a good 40 minutes to recover them – and all this time he could see the in the car window the reflection of a crowd of naked people who’d come to watch.
Mike says: “I really had to concentrate on the job I can tell you and did become the butt of many jokes afterwards.
“A good sense of humour helps in this job. Even so, after the guy had thanked me and went off to finish his game of tennis, I did manage to resist shouting out ‘new balls, please’.”
Kick in the bollards
The bollard scene is based on one attended by London patrol Dave Bromley who rescued a Foreign Office car that had lost an argument with a rising bollard in Downing Street. Dave says: “The officials seemed happy to see me as they were embarrassed by the whole ‘foreign’ affair.” Dave was treated well and was offered a cuppa for his efforts.
Breaking down can be embarrassing but you tend to stand out even more when you have not one but two bonnets up. The wrong fuel scene is based on a ‘push me-pull you’ 1964 Morris Traveller with two front ends (both ‘fronts’ complete with an AA badge) attended by patrols Darren Gough and Alison Smithers. The owners had bought the eye-catching ‘car’ on eBay and were on their way to display it at the Great Dorset Steam Fair when it broke down.
Over the years, AA patrols have worked on any number of military vehicles – big and small. The advert also features a German armoured vehicle conking out in the middle of a Second World War battle scene. A Yorkshire-based military re-enactment group performed in the advert but the breakdown scene became reality when they suffered an actual breakdown…and had to call out a real AA patrol to fix it.
The advert also features some of the AA’s Assist services, where more specialist help is required: Fuel Assist for people who have misfuelled; Key Assist, which can cut and program a key for 95 per cent of vehicles on the road; Battery Assist, which can supply and fit a wide range of vehicle batteries; as well as 4×4-equipped patrols to get to members in adverse weather or difficult situations.
Putting the member first
Olly Kunc, AA road operations director, says: “Our new ad is a light-hearted look at the sort of weird and wonderful call-outs faced by our patrols. While people break down in all manner of situations, with more patrols than any other breakdown provider, you can rest assured that we have the specialist skills and experience to help you on your way.
“While we continue to invest in patrols’ training and equipment – including the latest Bosch vehicle diagnostics – to maintain our leading fix rate, these stories highlight the impressive ingenuity of our patrols.
“However, there is also a lot more to being a patrol than the technical skills. We like to say that we fix the member first, then the car, so empathy and a sense of humour help too whether you’re facing some skinny-dippers who have lost their keys or a particularly stubborn tank that won’t start.”
The new AA advert will air on 18 June, including during ‘Heathrow: Britain’s Busiest Airport’ at 21:15 on ITV.