A&W Commercial 1991
Commercial for A&W broadcast in 1991
Rooty, the Great American Root Bear, originated in Canada in 1974 as a counter to the competition to Ronald McDonald of McDonald's and first appeared in the United States in 1976. However, the character's introduction was almost aborted when marketing received focus group research results that reported a poor reaction to him. In reaction, the Marketing Director, acting on instinct about the appeal of the character, ordered the researcher to return to Toronto with the cover story that he never presented in that report. The researcher compiled and Rooty was presented to the franchisees as is. As such, Rooty proved a popular marketing success.
Throughout the 1970s, '80s, and '90s, Rooty was the face of A&W, both the bottled drinks and the restaurant chain, on television and print advertising. His presence all but disappeared in the late 1990s, but in 2011, under new ownership, Rooty has come out of retirement. He has since been featured in print ads, on A&W's website, as the voice of their official Twitter account, and in a variety of YouTube and Vine videos. In 2013, Rooty became the first mascot to have an official LinkedIn profile, which was quickly shut down as Rooty was not considered "real" by the authorities at Linkedin.