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Special Project

Special Project
From the 15th Annual Shorty Awards

Expect Something More with AAA

Entered in Brand Awareness Campaign


When most people hear AAA, they think of roadside emergencies (flat tires, dead batteries, empty gas tanks) and the peace of mind associated with the brand that has heroically saved many in their time of need. Until recently, that was a good thing. But in 2022, AAA aimed to pivot from its focus on roadside to grow in auto insurance – a more profitable business for the future and an industry that experienced almost a decade of growth leading into the pandemic.

Objective #1: Grow AAA’s auto insurance business by 15% YOY in 5 key markets (MI, IL, WI, TN, FL)

To succeed in the crowded and competitive insurance category, it was imperative to be top-of-mind when people were shopping around. But with single-digit unaided awareness (8%), it was safe to assume AAA was missing the cut-off for consideration most of the time.

The awareness gap was large, AAA was facing a head-to-head fight with some of the most famous spokespeople and distinctive assets in the world – most boasting over a decade in-market and near universal awareness.

Objective #2: Increase Unaided Awareness, Consideration and Purchase Intent of AAA Auto Insurance 

With a .52% SOV in the insurance category, AAA was the ultimate underdog. Even with a 4% reduction in ad spend by both Geico and Progressive in 2021, the delta was still significant – we were talking millions, while they played in the billions. 

Objective #3: Reduce cost per acquisition to ensure our limited dollars worked hard for us

Strategy and Execution

This is the story of how we took the brand from being invisible in the uber-competitive auto insurance category, to introducing a fresh face in the familiar cast of characters that have defined the space for over a decade, and winning hearts along the way. 


Despite shopping the category regularly, Millennial and Gen X’s trust in insurance companies was at a five-year low, and they assumed agents were just trying to sell them the most expensive coverage, regardless of their needs. It was clear that the category’s charisma and comedic charm was a facade with a deepening crack.

While AAA didn’t have a catchy jingle or famous spokesperson, they had 120 years of hard-earned equity as a real-life rescuer, answering midnight calls from the middle of nowhere and saving the stranded with a tow to safety. Both longtime members and prospects saw the brand as an everyday hero with the iconic truck being the beacon of a true helping hand (and one of our most distinctive assets!). 

Even amongst our skeptical audience, AAA’s tireless work advocating for the American driver earned us an immediate place in their hard-to-enter consideration set. 


In a sea of superficial salespeople, only AAA offers what people really need – a real-life rescuer.


Springboard off the everyday heroism that made the brand famous – let our real-life rescuers be our spokesheroes. 


We transformed our 10,000 tow-truck drivers into “spokesheroes” and made them and their trucks the vehicle for our message. By inserting them into unexpected places (far from the roadside), we leveraged the equity without risking confusion. The unusual placement enabled us to play with the surprise factor and playfully repeat the key message – that AAA has auto insurance – several times. 

We dusted off the tagline – Expect Something More – and imbued it with new meaning, serving as a reminder of the insurance offering, a rallying cry to weary consumers shopping the category, and a subtle callout of the competition. 


Our strategy focused on three key moments throughout the journey: 


With less than 1% SOV against the behemoths in the category, AAA embarked on this ambitious journey with the courage and conviction of a real-life rescuer on a mission. And like any good hero, we stayed true to our roots, strategically leveraged our strengths, and eventually emerged victorious.  

Activating across Linear and Connected TV, OLV, Streaming Audio, Social and OLA, the results exceeded all expectations: 

Objective #1: Grow AAA’s auto insurance business by 15% YOY in 5 key markets (MI, IL, WI, TN, FL)

Results: +11% overall with 4 of the 5 states exceeding 15% goal

Objective #2: Increase Consideration and Purchase Intent of AAA Auto Insurance 

Results: Increased Unaided Awareness by 13pts, which surpassed the benchmark (1.3 pt lift) by 10x.

We also saw large lifts in Consideration (+23 pt) and Purchase Intent (+17 pt), significantly outperforming benchmarks by 10x and 7x respectively.

Objective #3: Reduce cost per acquisition to ensure our limited dollars worked hard for us

Results: Through the efficacy of the media plan and optimizations made throughout, we reduced acquisition costs during the campaign time frame.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Digitas, ACG/AAA

Entry Credits