A&W Pivots For a New Generation With Promotional Merchandise

Apparel Merch Statistics:

  • 85%

    Brand Recall is Highest For Branded Apparel Items.

    Source: ASI Central
  • 47%

    Of Consumers Keep a Promo T-Shirt For 2 Years Or Longer.

  • 63%

    Of people keep promotional hats because they are attractive.

A&W company branding
People wearing sustainable apparel made from promotional apparel

The Challenge: Refreshing a Brand in a Sustainable & Cost-Effective Way

A&W Canada branch rose to the new age branding challenge by creating fashion forward merch with the Canadian-based sustainable and ethical brand Frankie Collective. Frankie Collective takes name brand thrifted clothes and creates contemporary pieces out of them. Many of their pieces are in a patchwork style and feature name brand logos like Nike and Adidas. The collection with A&W features casual street-style inspired sweat sets, flannel hoodies, bucket hats, and t-shirts made with upcycled A&W promotional apparel and other recycled fabric in the A&W color palette.

The 102 year old fast-food chain, A&W, has been trying to keep up with the times in the past couple of years. Both the Canadian and the original U.S branch have been on a rebranding campaign to bring the fast-food chain from 1919 to the present.

As of 2022, The Canadian A&W branch has 44.7K followers on Instagram. They have created a clean and consistent aesthetic on Instagram and redesigned their logo from the former logo which the U.S branch still uses. Their profile shares clean and bright foodie shots and amusing quotes in bold lettering. This is similar to many influential social accounts in the fast food industry. In order to really stand out in today’s social media overload, there’s a serious need for fresh and different content. Cultivating a strong community around a business is the next step in branding that takes a business from an inanimate business to one with a unique and relevant voice to share their great quality products or services. The Frankie A&W Merch Collection speaks to younger consumer values and style. The whole collection sold out completely,validating the success of this campaign. So what did they do right? We’ll break it down below!

53% of people use a promotional product at least once a week.

(Source: Sage Blog)

53% of people use a promotional product at least once a week.

Breaking It Down

An emphasis on sustainability is perhaps among the most important elements of this merch collaboration. This is likely due to the fact that fast-food is not usually associated with sustainability. If a fast-food chain does address sustainability it is usually restricted to menu and packaging changes. By putting out sustainable merch, A&W really establishes a brand image of commitment to environmental mindfulness in all aspects of their business.

An element that might have contributed to the A&W's success is their collaboration partner Frankie Collective. Frankie Collective is a new brand focused on upcycling old clothes to create new and trendy items with them. In this collaboration they take simple logoed A&W promotional items and mix it with other fabrics to create patchwork masterpieces. The collection featured sweats sets, hooded flannels, and shirts. No piece is alike and that is part of the appeal of this kind of apparel collection. Frankie Collective has a huge young Gen Z audience who like street style fashion and care about sustainability. The brand has taken a note from bigger fashion brands who utilize scarcity and collaborations to create hype. This new excitement drives attention and reframes the A&W brand to a younger generation.

47% of consumers keep a promotional t-shirt for 2 years or longer.

(Source: ASI Central)

 47% of consumers keep a promotional t-shirt for 2 years or longer.

How To Replicate Their Success

Seek Collaborative Opportunities

Replicating the success of this campaign means seeking collaborations with environmentally or socially focused groups. This can be a brand or a nonprofit organization of your choosing. For example, if you are an art apparel company, this might mean a collaboration with a food bank or soup kitchen in the area. When considering partners to collaborate with, think about who and what you would like your brand to be affiliated with and how the collaboration could offer support to both parties.

Opt For a Limited Edition Collection

Another key to the success of this collaboration was the limited edition status of the collection. Not only was each piece unique, but it wasn’t mass produced either. This made owning a piece in this collection quite special. For those looking to create a sense of excitement, consider marketing it as a limited edition series. Invest the time and energy needed to create designs that will appeal to a greater number of people.

Planning for the Future

Making merch for your client can help turn them into your community members and increase overall brand loyalty. You can start your journey on AnyPromo.com! We have hundreds of options and a supportive art team to get you started. If you liked this story, check out our other merch success stories on the blog.

See More Articles from AnyPromo Academy

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