A&W aims to beat MS with take-out

How the QSR has adapted its annual fundraiser (and one of its busiest days of the year) to be distancing-friendly.

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The “Burgers to Beat MS Day” fundraiser is one of the busiest days of the year inside A&W’s more than 850 restaurants in Canada. To keep it going – and reach its $1 million fundraising goal – in a year when people likely shouldn’t be in a crowded restaurant, the QSR has pivoted this year’s campaign to be about how the ways ordering from outside the restaurant can be a win instead.

In the first ever “Take Out Burgers to Beat MS” day, A&W will donate $2 from every Teen Burger sold on Aug. 20 to the MS Society of Canada. Leading up to the day, A&W customers can support the campaign by rounding up their bill with any purchase, by donating at Burgers to Beat MS’ official website, or by adding a donation when ordering through A&W’s mobile app, as they have in past years.

A&W offers mobile ordering for take-out through its own app, and delivery through services UberEats, DoorDash and SkipTheDishes and drive-thrus at several locations, all of which are options the QSR is promoting as part of this year’s campaign, as opposed to a visit in-store.

Tom Newitt, VP of marketing at A&W Canada, tells strategy that the brand’s franchisee advisory group expressed how they really wanted to go forward with the Burgers to Beat MS Day for the 12th year, but needed to figure out how to do so safely and in an entertaining way. Entertainment has been a part of past year’s events, with individual locations hosting things like root beer float stands, raffles and merchandise sales to draw people into the store.

The entertainment value this year comes in the form of the creative by Rethink – with soccer star Christine Sinclair and longtime A&W spokesperson Allen Lulu – showing how, for example, you “score” when you round up your bill and order a Teen Burger via drive thru. This is Sinclair’s fourth consecutive year as the face of the Burgers to Beat MS Day.

A&W will be rolling out additional creative assets on its social media channels leading up to Aug. 20. Like in past years, the brand is looking to drive awareness through organic social media and PR efforts across Canada.

Some other things are different, however. Creative with Sinclair and Lulu was shot remotely. Outside of the campaign itself, A&W had to ensure the customer-purchase experience was as “easy and contactless as possible,” Newitt describes.

“You don’t want to slow everything down. But you do want to make sure people are able to donate, or enjoy buying their Teen Burgers on the day,” Newitt says. “It’s that balance of having a good experience, but keeping everyone moving along when you’re trying to deal with high volumes.”

Newitt says the issue of multiple sclerosis, as well as the MS Society of Canada’s values and objectives, align with A&W as a brand. He draws the parallels between MS being “very much a Canadian disease,” as approximately 11 Canadians are diagnosed with MS every day, and how A&W is a brand “that is in nearly all Canadian communities.”

New to this year is that A&W will match the value of the Burgers to Beat MS-themed e-gift cards purchased until Aug. 20 as a corporate donation to the MS Society.