A&W Restaurants is only asking for one thing as it turns 100 this year: return the ampersand to the alphabet. The chain, with nearly 1,000 locations worldwide, is inviting people to sign a Change.org petition asking major dictionaries, social media decision makers and whomever will listen to restore the ampersand to the alphabet, resulting in more practical digital usage.
“The Internet has not been kind to this centuries-old symbol of unity,” says Sarah Mueller, vice president of marketing, who noted the ampersand dates to 45 A.D. and once was the 27th letter of the alphabet. “Have you ever tried to use one in a hash tag? Or a URL? It doesn’t work, which has become problematic for many brands.”
A&W identified thousands of other companies and organizations that likely experience ampersand dysfunction and would benefit from change.
“We’re doing this for everyone that loves the ampersand and all of the companies like ours that proudly display it in their names and logos,” Mueller says. “Its exclusion has made all of our lives a little harder. ‘AandW.com’ is clunky and ugly. The Twitter handle ‘@aandwrestaurants’ looks ridiculous. ‘#A&W’ is read by computers as just one lonely #A. Sometimes using an ‘&’ just makes a lot more sense.”
To protest, A&W recently unveiled a new logo without the ampersand. Fans were quick to call out the change on social media, reacting with both intrigue and confusion.
“It's time to restore the ampersand to the alphabet and practical use, and the change.org petition is our way of signaling this to the powers that be,” Mueller added. “Our website home page will remain ampersand-free until we reach our goal of 10,000 petition signatures, until some dictionary somewhere hears our plea or until National Root Beer Float Day, August 6.”
The brand is promoting the campaign on social media using #BringBackThe&, which, obviously doesn’t work (yet).