> campaign analysis
> • A&W campaign drops smart Boomers for the terminally stupid
• A&W campaign drops smart Boomers for the terminally stupid
When the food is so distracting you don't notice that Matita Barber is looking at you, it's time to start going to another restaurant.
I’m disappointed in A&W. For several decades they’ve been searching for an effective advertising strategy with limited results. Sometimes they attempted to appeal to the youth of the moment, such as their embarrassing Root Bear of the ‘70s, and sometimes they’ve drawn upon the nostalgia from their history as one of the earliest drive-in restaurants
A couple of years ago, however, they hit upon a new approach. An attractive, mature couple, possibly in their early 40s, is walking down the street after what has obviously been a first date at a high-end restaurant. As they walk, they discuss, in a casual, witty fashion, the overly-pretentious and tiny portions of food they’ve just been served. When it comes time to go their separate ways, the woman suggests they get something to eat. “But we’ve just eaten,” says the man. “No we haven’t,” she responds. Of course, they end up at an A&W with the “real food” of a hamburger and fries. “Will you be having desert with that?” asks the franchise owner. “This is desert,” he’s told.
It’s warm, intelligent, and appealing. It positions A&W as a piece of nostalgia with modern relevance. It was aimed at adults, and it portrayed a real, adult situation.
Recently, however, the agency behind the ads appears to have been seduced by the siren call of adolescent humour. In a spot called “The Trainee,” to introduce their sirloin Uncle Burger, the franchise owner calls his staff together only to discover that the sample burger (improbably kept undercover on a silver platter) has disappeared. He then notices that one of the young staff has a spot of sauce on his shirt and is ecstatically mumbling about “sirloin.” In a follow-up spot, “Lose Yourself,” the father of four children is so enraptured with his Uncle Burger that he fails to understand what his wife is saying when she suggests they try for a girl. Mistaking his moans of pleasure for agreement, the mother generously tells him he can choose the name. He mutters “sirloin,” which she ponders for a moment, believing this to be his choice. “For a girl?” she says, dubiously.
From ads aimed at adults, they’ve become ads aimed at young teenagers’ concepts of adults. The product goes from being a believable alternative to fancy, but unsatisfying dining, to food that is so orgasmically pleasing that anyone indulging in it is incapable of carrying on a sensible conversation.
It’s disappointing to see such a promising campaign turn into yet another youth-directed piece of nonsense.