01 April, 2017
Carl's Jr. made a name for itself with attention-grabbing marketing, including model Charlotte McKinney in a Super Bowl ad walking through a market in a bikini, Paris Hilton washing a auto while eating a burger, and Emily Ratajkowski fighting with Sara Underwood over space on a barbecue. If this campaign lasts as long as the sexy burger one, a decade from now, maybe Carl's Jr and Hardee's can even talk about how they pioneered mixing sexy models and dripping burger juices.
"We believe in putting hot models in our commercials, because ugly ones don't sell burgers", CKE CEO Andrew Puzder said in a 2011 press release. Photos of disembodied lips, a naked woman with burgers covering her breasts, and women in bathing suits cover the walls.
To make the transition, Carl's Jr. has created an elaborate ad campaign which tells the story of a fictitious Carl's Jr. founder, Carl Hardee Sr., reclaiming control of his business from Jr., his twenty-something frat boy son, who had been responsible for the company's risque ads. Going forward, the yellow star will no longer have a happy face in the middle, and the red and white lettering will be replaced with black.
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This is also following a trend of companies deciding to pivot away from their sexy images in an effort to attract broader, more sophisticated buyers. "We target hungry guys, and we get young kids that want to be young hungry guys".
"CKE has always been driven by a pioneering spirit - and whether it was being the first hamburger QSR chain to charbroil burgers, igniting the movement toward all-natural products with the All-Natural Burger, or introducing the all-you-can-drink beverage bar, nobody has done more to shape the world of fast food as we know it than Carl's Jr. and Hardee's", said Mike Murphy, CKE's president and chief legal officer, in a statement.
Will Carl's Jr. and Hardee's have better luck?