CAA shows gratitude for being named Canada’s most trusted brand

A chapter of the auto club is reflecting its relationship with members through simple gestures.

After being named Canada’s most trusted brand last year, the Canadian Automobile Association’s (CAA) South Central Ontario chapter is running a campaign aimed at thanking members for their support.

Having earned recognition as the country’s most trusted brand on the University of Victoria’s 2018 Gustavson Brand Trust Index, the national auto club reached out to people on social and asked them to submit ideas on how it could show gratitude through simple gestures. More than 1,000 members participated, and the result was a digital campaign by agency Arrivals + Departures that shows CAA associates fulfilling those requests in more than minute-long videos.

In addition to appearing on Facebook, YouTube and a campaign website, the spots are running in cinemas across Southwestern Ontario. Cairns Oneil is handling media duties.

Erin Roux, brand manager for the CAA in South Central Ontario, says the idea was to find a meaningful way of saying “thank you” to members for their support.

The Gustavson index is based on three different brand trust measures, namely functional trust, relationship trust and values-based trust, with the latter incorporating things like how much the brand is perceived to contribute to the community. While the current effort could be said to emphasize values-based trust by showing CAA employees actively involved in the community, that wasn’t the intention of the campaign, Roux says.

“We didn’t look at what the categories or what the criteria were [for the index] as much as the trust and relationship that we have with our members, which is a founding principal of our company.”

Speaking with strategy last year, Saul Klein, dean of the Gustavson School of Business, said membership-based and co-operative organizations generally tend to benefit from higher levels of trust, because they have a more direct relationship with their customers than other firms.

The CAA campaign lands only weeks before the university is set to unveil the results of the brand trust index for 2019. But Roux says the campaign will continue beyond the May 1 release even if the company should be displaced as the most trusted brand.

Roux says the campaign was teed up in such a way that it can continue to run even if the organization should fall down in the ranking. Campaign messaging could easily be adapted to position the brand as among the most trusted brands, for example. In addition, she says the CAA has been “quietly” working on fulfilling other member requests (without filming them), with the goal of having eventually helped 200 members.

CAA South Central Ontario is also continuing on with a multi-year plan to renovate and remodel its retail locations, putting the focus on being a community hub for its members.