Anti-Celeb Meals

Anti-Celeb Meals

Fighting the Labor Crisis in a Year Filled with Celebrity-Endorsed Meals

In 2021, nothing impacted restaurants more than the labor crisis. Yet all consumers ever hear about is the next big Celebrity Meal. 
So how do you recruit and retain the absolute best team members for A&W’s franchisee restaurants in a sea of ads for Saweetie’s McDonald’s order?
You create the hiring campaign of all hiring campaigns. In the style of those big name celeb meals. With… a little tweak.


This is an unprecedented challenge that cannot be met by a single 3’x10’ “NOW HIRING” banner by the drive-thru, so we were tasked by Marketing, Operations, and HR to brainstorm ways to build a “Comprehensive Hiring Package” for franchise partners.

Conducting calls with Franchisees and Employees across the country, many insights were almost common sense — employees loved their team, their regulars, and almost all had a menu-hack they were proud to share with anyone that would ask "What do you recommend?"

A&W Restaurants is not just 1,000+ unit franchise system — they're a brand built on great customer experiences, and that begins with great people. Their team members are one reason that A&W is an American icon, with over 100 years of serving All American Food under their belts.


Instead of trying to out-celeb competitors, we revisited conversations with A&W employees and asked them if they'd be open to a celebrity-style photoshoot capturing their favorite menu-hack to celebrate their meal. Their resounding "YES!" became "Local Celeb Meals", the "Anti-Celeb Meal."

Using variable data and local store marketing resources, we made all aspects of the campaign customizable with each of A&W Local Celebs’ (aka employees) names and locales, from variable data yard signs and custom point of purchase displays to localized team uniforms.

Variable-Data Yard Signs Customized For Each Participating Restaurant & Crew


While we knew lifting up Team Members would be valuable any way you cut it, the "celeb meal" phenomenon was the perfect chance to propel our campaign into the zeitgeist. We even recreated iconic photos from competitors' shoots with local store employees to help galvanize the creative strategy into the perfect visuals to get the world.

The Saweetie Meal vs The Hannah Meal

The J Balvin Meal vs The Raider Meal


By dominating headlines, and garnering even greater reach across social, we propelled A&W into the spotlight and in the new hiring conversation by spendings hundreds-of-millions less than the competition. All while highlighting the people that deserve it most: the A&W staff.


Participating restaurants saw increased applications and improved employee retention, plus employment opportunities at A&W Restaurants became international news! All without spending a dime on advertising, or pricey celebrity endorsements.

Using under $24,000 in total campaign investment, Anti-Celebs achieved $5,454,353 in Earned Media Value (EMV) from over 25 stories in national publications within the first weeks with $0 in paid media. This +22,070% ROI spoke volumes when paired with achieving the larger business goals surrounding hiring and retention of employees.


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