For years Carl’s Jr. tried to get attention by following an old advertising adage: Sex sells. The fast-food chain’s commercials featured Heidi Klum licking a burger, Kim Kardashian lounging in a bubble bath and Paris Hilton in a revealing swimsuit washing a Bentley. It even trolled critics with a defiant statement: “We believe in putting hot models in our commercials, because ugly ones don’t sell burgers.”
That was before the #MeToo movement, slipping sales and changes in corporate leadership, with three chief executives in three years. Now Carl’s Jr.’s parent company, CKE Restaurants Holdings, plans an ad campaign in the spring that’s meant to put some distance between the chain and its old image.
“Our plan moving forward is really about how to keep food at the center of what we’re doing,” said Chad Crawford, a veteran of Burger King, Denny’s and Popeye’s who was recently named CKE’s chief brands officer.
The company, once better known for its commercials than its food, has been without a dedicated advertising agency for most of 2019. New campaigns for Carl’s Jr. and another CKE chain, Hardee’s, will be handled by the 72andSunny agency, which is getting a second chance after the company replaced it early last year.
“We’re definitely not looking to the past,” said Jess Monsey, the president of 72andSunny, New York. The agency has recently worked with other companies to overcome long legacies of sexism, producing a “bathsculinity” campaign for Axe that took on male stereotypes.
CKE, perpetually an underdog to larger rivals like McDonald’s and Burger King, with more than 3,800 locations in 44 states and dozens of countries, has always seemed to relish attention. The rags-to-riches-to-near-ruin tale of its founder is industry lore: Carl N. Karcher invested $325 in a hot dog cart in Southern California in 1941 and turned it into a burger powerhouse in the West before facing federal insider trading accusations and feuding with his board. He was eventually deposed…..[Read More]
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