Spotlight on A&W at Marketer of the Year Gala

In front of over 350 of BC’s top marketing minds, the spotlight was on A&W Food Services of Canada at BCAMA’s 45th annual Marketer of the Year gala, held at the Westin Bayshore on October 21. Attendees enjoyed mini-burgers and onion ring canapés at a cocktail reception with a farmers’ market flair, which was followed by a surprise onstage appearance from Allen, A&W’s quirky spokesperson. The dinner menu, featuring A&W’s own Canadian-grown beef, showcased the company’s focus on high-quality ingredients.

 2015 MOY 1Just part of A&W Food Services of Canada’s farmers market.

And the excitement didn’t end with A&W’s win. Three other companies were also recognized that evening for their exceptional marketing efforts with the BCAMA’s new Marketing Excellence Awards: Theatre Under the Stars – submitted by Laura Murray PR – took home the title of best marketing campaign that engaged a community, Nintendo’s Mario’s Canadian Karting Day – submitted by Inventa – as recognized in the experiential marketing event category, and COBS Bread was recognized for their grassroots COBS Cares campaign with the award for marketing on a shoestring.

Stars at Marketer of the YearTheater Under the Stars takes home the title of best marketing campaign that engaged a community at the Marketing Excellence Award.

Nintendo at Marketer of the YearNintendo is recognized in the experiential marketing event category at the Marketing Excellence Awards.

OBS Bread at Marketer of the YearCOBS Bread is recognized with the award for marketing on a shoestring at the Marketing Excellence Awards.

A&W’s Journey

A&W’s journey to Marketer of the Year started with an understanding of its target market and a bold business decision. Through market research, the company discovered that millennials, its new target market, care a great deal about the quality of food they consume. This spurred A&W to overhaul their ingredients and their supply chain, working with existing Canadian suppliers to eliminate hormones and antibiotics from their ingredients.

Implementing higher quality standards for beef, chicken and eggs required collaboration throughout A&W and from its partners. Tom Newitt, Senior Director of Brand Communications, said that, although these changes were not easy for suppliers, “A&W, as a whole, places a great deal of emphasis on partnership and teamwork, whether it’s internally, with our advertising agency or the suppliers of our ingredients or, of course, with our franchisees.”

Once the company implemented its ingredients guarantee, they began to spread the word, with the help of their agency partner Rethink. Rethink helped to reimagine Allen, the trusted face of the brand, by taking him out of the store and onto the street, where he could get reactions from Canadians about the new real food guarantee. Those reactions, which included 1,000 comments on social media in the first week of the campaign, were overwhelmingly positive.

What started as a bold business decision backed by market research helped A&W become the best burger in Canada in less than two years. What is also apparent is the team effort it took to enhance the supply chain, to implement the ingredient guarantee and to bring the campaign to life. “We’re hugely proud, and I don’t think we’ve come down yet from the high of feeling proud and excited,” says Tom Newitt about their Marketer of the Year win.

A&W presentation at Marketer of the YearThe moment of glory: picking up the coveted Marketer of the Year award.

A&W accepting the Marketer of the Year award.

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