The RAC is winning new hearts by promoting itself as a solidly
green citizen. Its incentives to members to become more environmentally
minded have made it a driving force in the motoring industry, says
Jessica Wenban-Smith, communications manager at Transport 2000.
RAC snubs royals! The media coverage of the unveiling of the RAC’s new
environment-friendly image was hi-jacked by the news that the car club
had ditched the crown from its logo. While the Guardian called upon the
editor of Burke’s Peerage to debate the tarnishing of the crown as a
brand icon, some reports queried the marketability of a green RAC.
Customers will see the RAC’s new identity in a range of products
designed for the non-car owner and for the ethical driver (someone who
wants to use the car less but hasn’t quite managed it). Specifically,
cyclists can now join the club and will be offered legal cover for
personal injury and damage to their bikes and clothing. In addition,
motorists can qualify for an annual no-claims discount that the RAC, in
true manifesto style, ’hopes will be spent on alternative transport when
members have the opportunity’.
Included in this package is the chance to buy a pounds 650 folding
bicycle designed by the RAC ’experts’ to fit neatly into a car boot. The
Daily Telegraph astutely calculated that it would take an RAC member 26
years of congestion-creating motoring to gather enough no-claims cash to
actually buy the bike.
And there’s the rub - the addition of ’environment’ to the RAC
dictionary is to be welcomed. The company is right to move away from the
doomed market of car devotees still pandered to by the AA. It is also
right to spot the market potential of drivers concerned about the local
and global impact of their cars. But to really win market share, the RAC
is going to have to prove that this isn’t just green-wash.
The RAC has a direct competitor in the Environmental Transport
Association which has been showing both mouth and trousers for many
years when it comes to providing services for ethical drivers. And
here’s something else for the RAC marketers to ponder - many of their
members want to reduce the amount of time spent at the steering
In Australia, the New South Wales equivalent of the RAC offers members a
more radical range of products , including a free advisory service to
help them reduce their car use.