What in the World — Week of November 1

A&W introduces 3/9 Burger (which is bigger than a Quarter Pounder)

We all know 1/3 is more than 1/4, right? Right. But when A&W introduced a 1/3 burger for the same price as a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder in the 1980s, too many Americans didn’t know that. The problem was the denominator: people mistakenly thought the McDonald’s burger was bigger because, of course, 4 is bigger than 3. The 1/3 Burger was considered a marketing failure. But now A&W is trying again and is giving the burger a new name: The 3/9 Burger. “This story has been circulating for years,” said A&W’s director of marketing Liz Bazner, according to QSR Magazine. “We’ve gotten tons of questions about it, but prior to now we haven’t been proactive about setting the record straight. We’re excited to have found a way to finally let America know that our burgers really are bigger and really are better.” A&W is promoting the new 3/9 Burger with an ad campaign by Cornett.

Do users care about Facebook’s bad press?
Much of the media world has been transfixed by the Facebook story over the past few weeks. First it was a series of articles in The Wall Street Journal documenting a troubling pattern of willful negligence when it comes to the harm caused by the social platform. That was followed by a damning 60 Minutes interview with whistleblower Frances Haugen that prompted even more bad press, and finally the high profile name change to Meta last week. But according to Axios, it’s mostly just media and lawmakers that care about any of this, while advertisers, users and investors appear “unfazed.” Based on data about social media interactions per published article from NewsWhip, interest in Facebook has declined over the course of the year, reports Axios. “The biggest jumps in engagement on stories about Facebook have come from stories about former President Trump,” it says.

Google’s Q3 revenues top $65 billion
Google parent Alphabet earned record revenues of US$65.1 billion in the third quarter, nearly double the revenue it attracted just three years ago, says The Verge. The tech giant’s $18.9 billion in profits were also a record for the fifth consecutive quarter. On an earnings call, chief financial officer Ruth Porat attributed the growth to “broad-based” ad spending, and continued consumer interest. Search alone pulled in $11 billion more than it did last year, while YouTube ad revenue increased to a record $7.2 billion. Chief business officer Philipp Schindler said the company is seeing “strong growth in local shopping queries” as people begin to return to stores. The report comes as Google faces a wave of antitrust lawsuits suggesting it prioritized its ad-buying system over the competition, tracked users while they were in incognito mode, and collected location data even when it was shut off by users.

Bowie’s songwriting catalogue could sell for $200 million 
Ownership of David Bowie’s musical catalogue could be going through some ch-ch-changes, with the Financial Times reporting (paywall) that the late performer’s catalogue has attracted bids of around US$200 million. Talks to sell Bowie’s extensive catalogue are at an “advanced stage” the Times reported, and a deal could possibly be announced in the coming weeks. A growing list of music stars, including Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Stevie Nicks, have sold their catalogue for nine-figure sums in recent months. “Specialist funds, music labels and private equity groups have been avid buyers as they look to invest in old bodies of work that have boomed in value,” said the Times.

Amazon spending billions to tackle supply chain issues
Amazon has pledged to spend billions of dollars to manage labour shortages and supply chain issues ahead of the holiday season, says the BBC. “It’ll be expensive for us in the short term, but it’s the right prioritization for our customers and partners,” said CEO Andy Jassy. The online retailer said that it is grappling not only with shortages in labour supply, but increased wage costs, global supply chain issues, and higher shipping costs. While Q3 sales were up 15%, profits dropped to US$3.2 billion from $6.3 billion. “Surging demand for goods, including those sold by Amazon, has led to increased congestion at ports in many countries, with retailers sounding the alarm bell that deliveries for the holiday season could be delayed,” said the BBC.

David Brown