Back to burgers: Carl's Jr. ditches bikini-clad ads

Posted April 01, 2017

The ads, which featured barely dressed models and celebrities like Charlotte McKinney, Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian chowing down on beefy burgers, are being replaced by a new campaign that pokes fun at the formerly sexually-charged spots.

Those days are gone for hamburger chain Carl's Jr./Hardees, which is dumping its famously sexy and controversial TV commercials for ones that focus on the meat not cheesecake.

CKE- the parent company of Carl's Jr. and Hardee's- now operates 3,800 restaurants around the the world.

The restaurant's new packaging.CKE RestaurantsWith the rebranding - which includes redesigned packaging, in-store menus, employee uniforms, a new logo, and a new slogan, "Pioneers of the Great American Burger" - Carl's Jr. and Hardee's appear to be ushering in a new era. Photos of disembodied lips, a naked woman with burgers covering her breasts, and women in bathing suits cover the walls. To illustrate, we see a video of Carl Jr. chomping down on burgers with three scantily clad women to his father's disapproval.

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Carl's Jr. and Hardee's are ready to go back to food, not boobs.

"I like our ads", he told Entrepreneur magazine.

The company still has its eye on its prized "hungry young guy" demographic, but upscale changes are coming. 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. Now the focus is on what CKE Restaurants, the parent company, says matters most: food.

Though some might hope that a crisis of conscience led the company's marketers to make the change and move away from objectification-as-marketing, but why does any organization change a once-successful market strategy?

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It looks like burger chains Carl's Jr. and Hardee's have finally grown up.

"They've never really gotten credit for their quality, and we want that message to land with consumers", Jason Norcross, executive creative director and partner at 72andSunny, told Adweek. "We target hungry guys, and we get young kids that want to be young hungry guys".

"Some of the product attributes got lost because people were too busy ogling girls", he said.

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