A&W serves up new tag with a side of nostalgia

The drive-in fast-food joint may be a thing of the past, but A&W knows that the memories live on. Especially among boomers, the target of a nostalgic 60-second spot, which unveils the new tag 'A&W since 1956.'

The drive-in fast-food joint may be a thing of the past, but A&W knows that the memories live on. Especially among boomers, the target of a nostalgic 60-second spot, which unveils the new tag ‘A&W since 1956.’

The ad debuted in mid-March and delivers an emotional brand sell – a departure for the Vancouver-based chain. In the past, A&W has opted for humorous, promo-based advertising.

Called ‘Drive,’ the spot stars a man who has just finished working on a vintage sports car when his wife pulls into the driveway. He asks her to go for a ride, and winds up at A&W, where he flashes his headlights. A few seconds later Alan, A&W’s ‘restaurant manager’ spokesperson, walks out with a tray of food. The male character admits to his wife that drive-in service is no longer available at the restaurant, suggesting the whole scene was preplanned.

The goal is to connect with the QSR’s 35-plus baby boomer demo by reminding them of their youth – and A&W’s place in it, says Joanne Petak, account director at Vancouver-based ad agency Rethink, A&W’s AOR. ‘The spot does symbolize the essence of their youth – the cars, the music, even the flashing of the lights when you drive in. Those are little triggers that people remember.’

Don Maunders, VP of marketing for the fast-food chain, says he simply recognized an opportunity to tap into those triggers. ‘We have this wonderful relationship with boomers, and we felt it was time to tell that part of the story. But rather than show images of the past, we wanted to make sure it was relevant to people’s lives today as well.’

Meanwhile, the new tagline communicates just how long the restaurant chain has been around – and that not much has changed since then. ‘It’s a reaffirmation of our core positioning – we do things the way we always have,’ says Maunders, who points to the fact that A&W still serves its burgers in foil wrappers as an example.

But the cheeky, promotional ads aren’t gone for good. A 30-second spot selling a pair of teen burgers for $5 launched March 22.

Client: A&W

Agency: Rethink

Art Director: Noreel Asuro

Copywriter: Bob Simpson

Account Supervisor: Joanne Petak

Client Supervisor: Don Maunders

Production House: Avion Films

Producer: Christine Pacheco

Director: Ray Dillman

Editor: Debby Tregale

Sound: Peter Clarke at GGRP