Little Bitty Hamburgers at Great Big Prices


If you read my last blog, you may have already figured out that this was another poster outside my dad’s breakfast-lunch café many years ago.

This poster also was published nationally in hundreds of newspapers by Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

It’s hard to believe anyone would advertise like this, isn’t it. But it worked well enough to feed a family in a small town.

This sign also represented my dad’s brand and personality. He made you smile and he made you think.

At a minimum, anyone reading this sign the first time had to be intrigued…and probably wondered:

  • Could this possibly be true?
  • Is this a joke?
  • Who would possibly be dumb/strange/interesting enough to advertise their food and restaurant as selling Little Bitty Hamburgers at Great Big Prices?
  • Could a small hamburger really be worth a lot of money?

The key was whether these strangers decided that they had to find out the answer to their questions, which required them to come inside and order the hamburger.

We certainly had no CRM system or even rudimentary POS capability, but I remember hearing people I didn’t know ordering one of those “little bitty” hamburgers, so I’m confident this reverse-psychology approach brought in business.

The poster is even stranger because the actual hamburger was large and the price very low. For perspective, think of a sandwich with 1” of meat being cheaper than the ⅜” hamburger served across the street. Let’s just say that dad was as creative with his meatloaf-like hamburger ingredients as his posters.

In addition to presenting a personal memory and a creative advertising example, I want to emphasize how the owner’s personality was projected in the advertising.

Think how unique and powerful brand personality is when it flows directly from the founder’s/owner’s/CEO’s personality. The following companies are just a few of the examples provided by my friends in the Marketing Executives Networking Group.

  • Southwest Airlines
  • Zappo’s
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Apple
  • News Corporation
  • Rolling Stone
  • Facebook
  • Starbucks
  • Microsoft
  • Oracle
  • Wal-Mart
  • Go Daddy
  • Crate & Barrel
  • Enterprise Rental Cars
  • Body Shop
  • Wendy’s
  • Chipotle
  • Those wonderful over-the-top local car dealers.
    • And I eliminated almost this many examples because the company was named after the founder, including Ogilvy & Mather, Trump, Oprah, Charles Schwab, Newman’s Own….

People buy from people…or at least buy from companies with personality.

About Richard Sellers

Richard is Chairman Emeritus of the Marketing Executives Networking Group, founder of Demand Marketing consulting firm, and former Sr. VP of Marketing for three multi-billion dollar companies: CEC, WLP, and Service Merchandise. His early career was at GE, P&G, Playtex, and Marketing Corporation of America. He’s also a volunteer counselor for SCORE assisting small businesses in upstate New York. You can follow his communications about marketing, job search and careers here and at mengonlineENTREPRENEURS QUESTIONS, and on Twitter at @Sellers_Richard.



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