A&W's Massive New Burger Is Poking Fun At This '80s 'Marketing Fail'

McDonald's may be the undisputed king of burger chains, but back in the 1980s, A&W tried to unseat the fast food giant from its throne. In what turned out to be an ultimately ill-conceived marketing campaign, A&W tried to one-up a massive competitor by releasing a burger that was even bigger and better than the famous McDonald's Quarter Pounder. Four decades ago, A&W released the ⅓ Pound Burger — which, as you can guess, consisted of ⅓ of a pound of juicy hamburger meat — for the exact same price as a McDonald's Quarter Pounder, according to a YouTube video posted by the chain.

One might expect that the promotion would have had burger lovers flocking to A&W to get more meat for their buck, but that's where the story took a hilarious turn. Unfortunately for A&W executives, they forgot one important thing about their target demographic: Americans aren't great at math. Because three is smaller than four, many people mistakenly thought a ⅓-pound burger was smaller than a ¼-pound burger, even though that is not how fractions work. As a result, many people stuck with their go-to McDonald's Quarter Pounder, believing it to be the better deal, and A&W's marketing tactic flopped.

A&W is now releasing the bigger, better 3/9 lb. Burger

In what the self-aware burger chain is calling an "incredible feat of ingenuity and inspiring comeback story," A&W is bravely unveiling a new challenger to all ¼-pound burgers on the market, according to a press release sent to Mashed. Having learned the hard way that the key to successfully marketing to Americans is to use big numbers, the chain introduced the 3/9 lb. Burger, which is made from 100% U.S. Beef and assuredly "3.333333333333333333333% bigger than any quarter-pound competitor." It's available now as long as supplies last.

Though the story of A&W's original marketing flop has "been circulating for years," said the company's director of marketing, Liz Bazner, the company hasn't "been proactive about setting the record straight" until now. The concept for the rebranded burger was conceived by mathematicians and advertising specialists to ensure that no American ever again gets tripped up by confusing mathematical concepts such as fractions. While A&W's calculations check out, only time will tell if the promotion will turn the tables in the fast food burger wars or simply become another famous flop.