Election 2020 Cory Gardner AAA

AAA Colorado's logo appears briefly in incidental footage from a newscast featured in a May 2020 ad from Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner's campaign.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner's campaign is editing its first television advertisement to remove the brief display of AAA Colorado's distinctive logo after the venerable motorists' organization reminded the candidate that it steers clear of any political activity.

The 30-second ad debuted last week, launching a six-figure, statewide buy by the Gardner campaign. It features snippets of newscasts that describe Gardner's response to the coronavirus pandemic — and it's in one of those snippets that the iconic AAA logo appears.

Gardner is seeking a second term in a nationally watched race that could determine which party controls the Senate. Democrats John Hickenlooper and Andrew Romanoff are running in a June primary for the chance to challenge the Republican.

In the ad, AAA's logo — a blue curve surrounding a red oval containing the initials, which stand for American Automobile Association — flashes on screen for about 1 second, one in a series of images accompanying a Fox News interview with Gardner. The logo is pictured at the top of a printed notice posted to the door of a AAA storefront office listing the motor club's policies during the COVID-19 crisis.

Kevin Hobbs, vice president of marketing & communications for AAA Colorado, contacted the Gardner campaign earlier this week after hearing from members who said they were confused by the brand's appearance in a political commercial, a spokesman told Colorado Politics.

“Giving our members safety, security, and peace of mind is at the heart of everything we do at AAA Colorado — so we’re glad folks have noticed what we’re doing to keep people safe in light of this health challenge," Hobbs told Colorado Politics in a statement. "Still, we want to make sure everybody knows that AAA Colorado doesn’t endorse political candidates or campaigns.”

A spokesman for the Gardner campaign said the logo's appearance was unintentional, adding that campaign advisors had edited the ad as soon as it was brought to their attention.

“At AAA, our members count on us to get to them quickly whenever they’re in need," Hobbs said Wednesday after learning that the Gardner campaign was taking care of his request. "In that spirit, we want to thank Sen. Gardner and his people for their quick attention to this, and for doing the right thing.”

Following a merger earlier this month with The Auto Club Group, AAA Colorado is part of the second-largest AAA club in North America, with more than 14 million members in 17 states, territories and a Canadian province. Routinely ranked among the most recognizable and respected brands in the United States, the 118-year-old organization provides roadside assistance, insurance, financial and travel services to members.

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