Carl’s Jr. Ditches Sexy Ads In New Marketing Campaign

It’s a new dawn for Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s as it strips its image of long-running controversial ads featuring bikini-clad women holding dripping giant burgers. The commercials, which first made rounds on television in 2005, have crammed several sexy celebrities into their ads from Paris Hilton to Kim Kardashian. Their posters showed women with voluptuous cleavage, glistening skin, and wearing scant clothing as they chowed down on their signature burgers. But all that is going down the drain as restaurant Carl’s Jr. plans to put more focus on the actual product — burgers.

Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s to sell burgers and attract people through delectable food porn photos
[Image by E.J Flynn/AP Images]

Bye Bye racy ads!

We’re saying goodbye to their controversial ads now, as USA Today reports that they’re experimenting with a fresh ad campaign. With the help of ad agency 72andSunny, they came up with a bearded fictional character named Carl Hardee Sr. — the company founder of Carl Jr’s. In the three-minute ad, he strips his son of CEO duties because Carl Hardee Jr. has been running the company like a frat house while his dad was out and about. It didn’t exactly mention where Carl Hardee Sr. came from, but being a boss and a dad means business.

The campaign pokes fun at their racy sexual ads in the past few years with Carl Hardee Jr. to blame. Papa Hardee is played by actor-musician Charles Esten from the melancholic series Nashville and his character portrays a no-nonsense kind of guy as his restaurant Carl’s Jr. opted to sell burgers and dial back on the raunchy in a new marketing strategy.

Love breakfast? Have a Monster Biscuit in the morning and a Breakfast Burger for lunch...and dinner.

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This is a major revamping of the burger food chain as it competes with other fast-food restaurants in attracting costumers. With their new fictional character and marketing shift, it might just be the answer to the dwindling business. Actually, Carl Hardee Sr. is an amalgam of founders Carl Karcher and Wilbur Hardee who started the brand in 1956.

Their sex-fueled formula campaign during that time have made them one of the biggest food chains in the market with around 3,800 franchised or company-operated restaurants in 44 states and 41 countries.

We don’t like to put anyone on a pedestal but… #FoodPorn #BeerCheeseBurger

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However, in a millennial era, Carl’s Jr. is struggling to cope up and maintain its brand as a poll released in 2015 found their ads “offensive” or “irritating.” It might have been a great kick-off to attract consumers by using provocative ads as they target the “hungry young guy” market. But now, the chain wants to expand its demographic and target consumers of all ages in their fresh new campaign.

Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s to sell burgers and attract people through delectable food porn photos
[Image by Karl DeBlaker/AP Images]

Jason Norcross, executive creative director at 72andSunny, said, “They’ve never really gotten credit for their quality, and we want that message to land with consumers. We want to reclaim their bona fides. It was time to evolve. Some of the product attributes got lost because people were too busy ogling girls.”

The need to evolve has been a long time coming

The new campaign would still involve the women ambassadors of the food chain; however, they would only now appear as cardboard cutouts and artwork. Aside from the ads, the brand wants to promote their product: burgers! They became well-known as the only one in the industry who offers made-from-scratch biscuits and grass-fed beef. The food chain has also made its own tagline to boot: “Pioneers of the great American burger.” It looks like Carl’s Jr. is serious about selling more of the burger and less of the bosoms.

Furthermore, Norcross added that the brand wants to delve into becoming a lower-priced alternative while keeping their excellent quality intact.

The Hardee character, as the face of the brand, would be incorporated into TV commercials, digital and social media, and in GIFs. The food chain’s uniforms, logo, menus, and packaging have also been transformed to give the brand a modern and contemporary touch.

“It looks cleaner and more contemporary,” said Brad Haley, chief marketing officer for CKE Restaurants Holdings.

[Featured Image by Jack Plunkett/AP Images]