How A&W used Facebook to shift its food-quality conversation

The QSR chain tapped Facebook to better perception of its ingredients

Late in 2013, A&W set out on a mission to change the conversation about the quality of its menu.

Guided by its “Ingredients Guarantee” for using only high-quality products, it created a campaign about the way in which its food is raised, from chickens bred without the use of antibiotics to eggs that come from hens raised on a vegetarian diet.

The integrated campaign from Rethink, which included TV spots, online display ads, video, POS and social media, delivered big results (and a spot on Marketing‘s 2014 Marketer of the Year shortlist). A year into the campaign, total sales were up 10.5%.

Some of that success is thanks to the brand’s Facebook spend, according to a new micro case study released by Facebook Canada. A&W turned to Facebook to increase awareness of the chain’s association with high-quality food.

Late into the roll out of the food quality messaging, A&W ran a series of Facebook ads linking to a microsite that offers consumers a bevy of information about where it’s meat comes from and how the animals it uses are raised. Most of the ads were simple product shots that ran with a promise: “Raised without the use of antibiotics.”

The ads produced double digit left in messaging association across the three major ingredients A&W was featuring in the campaign – eggs, chicken and beef. The Facebook campaign saw a 36% lift in message association between A&W and high-quality chicken and a 38% lift in message association for high-quality eggs.

Pairing Facebook with traditional ads also helped increase recall. According to A&W, its Facebook ads about chicken and eggs more than doubled the consumer ad recall it had previously achieved with TV ads.

Using sponsored news feed posts and Facebook ads, the company was able to shift brand perception about the quality of its ingredients, according to measurement results from Nielsen Brand Effect. The brand declined to provide additional metrics or specific sales results.

Robert Cifarelli, manager of in-Restaurant and online communications at A&W Canada, said in the case study, “With Facebook, we were able to add incremental message association beyond what was possible with television advertising alone. In combination with our other promotional efforts, Facebook helped us drive awareness around A&W’s quality ingredients, which resulted in a considerable sustained lift in sales of our beef, eggs and chicken menu items.”


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