Fitch Inc.'s first campaign for A&W Restaurants, breaking this week, stars newspaper cartoon icons Blondie and Dagwood Bumstead.
The campaign includes regional TV, radio, print, billboards and point-of-purchase materials for the Livonia, Mich.-headquartered fast-food chain, said Jim Buckley, A&W marketing director. The chain's 450 franchisees, who operate nearly 1,000 restaurants in 46 states and 15 foreign countries, can run the spots locally as well, Buckley said.
The restaurant chain did nationwide consumer research several years ago to find a descriptor that people would respond to and connect with the A&W logo. The phrase "all-American food," which tested the best, is now part of the A&W logo.
Blondie, Dagwood and the rest of the Bumstead family fit into that all-American image, Buckley said. The new ads continue A&W's 4-year-old tagline, "Where the food is as good as the root beer."
A&W has a two-year licensing agreement with King Features to use Blondie and Dagwood in all its marketing and advertising efforts, said Glenda Gordon Kime, A&W account supervisor at Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Fitch. The campaign initially includes four radio spots and five 30-second TV spots. They all use the same black-and-white cartoon strip-style animation core, but showcase different promotions. The campaign includes both newspaper ads and full-color mailbox inserts, Gordon Kime added.
Previous A&W advertising efforts were completely promotion-specific and lacked a coherent theme, Buckley said. "This is really a quantum leap both in what we do and how we do it," he said of Fitch's campaign.
Rapid growth led A&W to review its $1 million account last year, Buckley said, awarding it to Fitch in December. The chain had worked with DiMarco/Cole & Associates in Roseville, Mich., for the previous five years, he said. --Tanya Gazdik