AA marketing chief admits blame over shock mailshot

Automobile Association sales and marketing director Bob Sinclair has admitted he was wrong to approve the motoring organisation’s controversial direct mail campaign (MW last week) and has personally apologised to distraught consumers.

Sinclair says he approved the mail campaign devised by HHCL & Partners and mailed to 50,000 people last week.

The mailer included fake motoring bills and was sent to members of AA’s Five Star Service overseas motoring insurance scheme.

“As sales and marketing director for the AA, I have the authority to approve or reject,” says Sinclair. “I got it wrong by approving it.”

He adds: “There was a reaction from some people that we did not expect, but it doesn’t follow that we upset everybody. We hold our hands up and say ‘thank you for telling us’. It is a lesson well learned.”

Since the campaign started, the AA has had to issue written apologies to members who mistook the fake bills for the real thing.

The Advertising Standards Authority has received eight complaints and is carrying out an investigation.

John Wilson, whose terminally ill friend was shaken by the mailer, says Sinclair has rung him to apologise personally.

It is understood that financial compensation may be approved for some complainants.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and inspiration that will help you develop as a marketer and leader.

Register and receive the best content from the only title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work, so we can make Marketing Week more relevant to you.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team and columnists will ask the biggest questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we will be your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Dedicated to developing your skills and helping you achieve marketing excellence. Find guidance on leadership, professional development and the latest industry jobs.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email subscriptions@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here