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

For a dozen years, Carl's Jr. and Hardee's have been best known for their racy - and often crass - commercials featuring scantily-clad women with the occasional hamburger.

For years, Carl's Jr. and Hardee's TV ads featured sexy models, including Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, Emily Ratajkowski, Sara Jean Underwood, and Kate Upton.

After busting through the doors of Carl's Jr. and Hardee's headquarters, Hardee Sr. demands that a scandalous picture of model Charlotte McKinney be taken down and replaced with a photo of a burger.

The brands' new tagline is "the great American burger" and instead focuses instead on quality and innovation in fast-food burgers.

Even the company's logo is getting a more mature, grown up look.

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In real life, it's actually CKE Restaurant's CEO Andrew Puzder who is retiring in April, after withdrawing his nomination in February 2017 from becoming labor secretary in US President Trump's administration. Still, in an interview with USA Today, Puzder framed this new campaign as part of an effort to focus "more directly and convincingly" on the quality and taste of the restaurants' food, not just a changing of the guard.

In a 2015 interview with Entrepreneur, Puzder explained his thinking behind the ads of old: "I like our ads".

"It was time to evolve", Jason Norcross, the executive creative director of ad agency 72andSunny, told AdWeek of the new campaign. The elder Hardee will goes up against his son as the two tackle the Jr.'s play boy-like ad campaign while the father was away. Between them, they have chowed down the company's burgers in negligees and leather bikinis, and eaten salads in beds and in bubble baths.

The company's rationale for its makeover reflects the same view of women as "distracting" (and men as unable to resist sexualizing them) as the ad.

CKE operates and franchises 3,800 restaurants under the Carl's Jr., Hardee's, Green Burrito and Red Burrito brands in 44 states and 41 countries and US territories. "Some of the product attributes got lost because people were too busy ogling girls", Norcross said.

  • Darren Santiago