top of page

copywriting lesson from a hamburger

Today’s email is brought to you by: Hamburgers.

Here’s why:

I scrolled through social media on my way to see Dave Chappelle last night, and I stumbled upon an interesting meme. I didn’t fact check the meme, so take this with a grain of paprika. But if I was a betting man, I’d bet this meme spoke true.

Here’s the story:

In the 1980s, A&W wanted to compete with McDonald’s. Since one of McDonald’s best-selling burgers was a quarter pounder, A&W tried to make their burger better. And they did what any aspiring competitor would do to the industry leader: They made a bigger burger at a lower cost.

A&W called this bigger, yet cheaper burger a ⅓ pound burger.

Guess what happened…

The ⅓ pound burger failed.


I have a couple of theories. And the meme itself has a theory (which I believe).

Let’s start with the meme’s theory:

According to the meme, the ⅓ pound burger failed because most customers thought a quarter pounder was bigger.

Which brings me to the first point:

For some weird reason, a quarter pounder *does* sound bigger than a ⅓ pound burger. The ⅓ pound burger almost sounds like you’re getting one-third of a burger.

See how important making your writing, and your offers, as simple and as understandable as possible is? This was a multi-million dollar mistake on A&W’s end.

I have a couple of additional theories too on why the ⅓ pound burger failed:

First, since the ⅓ pound burger is cheaper, it reinforces the belief that it’s only one-third of a burger. Folks naturally assume higher priced products are superior to cheaper products, whether or not it’s true.

Second, the quarter pounder was proven. It became part of the lexicon whereas a ⅓ pound burger wasn't.

Sometimes reinventing the wheel (or trying to) isn't as profitable as following a proven system.

As for the last reason?

McDonald's had a stronger brand. In fact, their brand was so strong that I bet Mickey D’s could’ve gotten away with launching a successful ⅓ pound burger whereas A&W failed.

Anyway, I thought it ‘twas an interesting story.

Wanna send your audience interesting—and seemingly unrelated—stories like this that make your wallet fatter? Let’s hop on a quick call to see if partnering makes sense.

Grab a time that works for you here, fool!


3 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Yesterday, I attended a webinar lecture from retired copywriter Jim Clair. I’ve talked about Jim several times throughout these emails, and for good reason. He’s one of the “good guys” when it comes t

Last week, one of my acolytes DM’d me on Twitter saying that Alex Hormozi stole from yours truly. (Well, kinda…) Y’see, in one of Hormozi’s latest videos he talks about Chick-fil-A and the 7 secrets t

bottom of page