AAA Affiliate Starts Custom Pub

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The Auto Club Group, the largest AAA affiliate in the Midwest, hopes to drive home its message with a new bimonthly member magazine called AAA Living.

Launching in March, AAA Living replaces the Home & Away and Michigan Living titles. Custom publisher Pace Communications will publish the magazine and serve as commercial consultant while the Home & Away Group will continue to handle ad sales.

"Why they've come to Pace is really to improve the editorial," said Craig Waller, chief marketing and sales officer of Pace, Greensboro, NC. "So we've given it a more aspirational feel. The whole editorial voice will be contemporary and relevant to the times."

AAA Living's circulation rate base will be 2.5 million. The book is 8.5-by-11 inches. Twenty-one editions segmented by life stage and member stage are planned, making it arguably one of the most targeted custom publications in the United States.

The distribution footprint covers members of Auto Club Group's six clubs: AAA Chicago Motor Club serving Illinois and northern Indiana; AAA Michigan; AAA Nebraska; AAA North Dakota; AAA Minnesota/Iowa, excluding Minneapolis; and AAA Wisconsin. Each of these organizations at one time had its own title via semi-autonomous publishing units.

"This is the first time they went outside their group for a custom publisher," Waller said. "They want to work harder on retention and member acquisition."

Auto Club Group, Dearborn, MI, is a nonprofit membership holding company offering automotive, travel, insurance and financial services. The six constituent clubs serve nearly 4.1 million AAA members. A regional property and casualty insurance entity called the Auto Club Insurance Association also is part of the group.

AAA Living is mandated to provide information to AAA members in the group's service territory. The publication also is an important marketing tool for its club and insurance operations. Each issue will focus on the benefits of membership, showing how AAA delivers travel and lifestyle ideas and options. Content will include information and entertainment. Aspirational travel is the hook.

"The whole thing is predicated on growing the particular part of membership [served by the magazine's distinct editions]," Waller said. "The nature of the organization is to encourage travel. It's a lucrative market, the heartland."

Pace is one of the leading private custom publishers in a $30 billion global industry. Waller, a transplant from the British custom publishing world, and chief operating officer George Stearns lead Pace. It produces publications such as United Airlines' Hemispheres, Delta Air Lines' Sky and Carlson Hospitality Worldwide's Voyageur.

Business picked up this year. A redesigned Hemispheres was started last month. Pace claims the in-flight magazine's readership has the highest income of all airline passengers.

Pace started a City Profiles business unit last month to produce city-focused publications. Atlanta and Arlington, VA, are on track for next year. The company also is expanding its Exclusively Weddings title. This began as an eight-page catalog released with Elegant Bride magazine and developed into a 120-page book with a companion Web site.

Mickey Alam Khan covers circulation for DM To keep up with the latest news subscribe to our free e-mail newsletter DM News Daily by visiting


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