For Carl’s Jr., the days of commercials featuring bikini-clad models munching seductively on fast food has come to an end. The burger joint has launched a new ad campaign announcing a back-to-basics approach focused simply on being “pioneers of the great American burger.”
The ad, which you can watch in the clip above, shows a fictional boss named Carl Hardee, Sr. swaggering into his office to find his tech-obsessed son, Carl Hardee, Jr., making a complete mess of things after being allowed to run the company for a few years. He promptly orders his team to take down massive posters featuring images of the company’s hyper-sexy ads of years past, much to the satisfaction of the women working in the office.
The new ad was released a week after the retirement announcement of Andrew Puzder, the longtime CEO of Carl’s Jr.’s parent company, CKE. Puzder was picked by Donald Trump to be the U.S. Secretary of Labor, but withdrew his name from consideration after many Republicans turned against his nomination. Headlines surfaced of him employing an undocumented immigrant as a housekeeper and senators were privately shown a video of Puzder’s ex-wife outlining domestic abuse allegations against him following their divorce in 1988.
Puzder, who will be replaced in April by former KFC president Jason Marker, had long been a supporter of the racy ads ever since Paris Hilton’s infamous “car wash” ad for the fast food chain became a pop culture mainstay back in 2005. But now CKE says they are moving in a new direction.
“It was very difficult for that kind of an ad to tell a more comprehensive story about the long list of things we do to make better food than anyone else in our space,” the company said in a press release.
Puzder spoke about the change in marketing approach in an appearance on the Fox Business morning show “Varney and Co.,” saying the new approach is one of his final moves as head of Carl’s Jr.
“You and I may certainly may like the ads we’ve been running a long time but the younger guys can get that on the internet, they are more interested in where your beef is from,” he said. “You can get sex on the internet you don’t need a Carl’s Jr or Hardee’s ad. So, the situation has changed and the way you get their attention with respect to your food products is the food.”
“Look, if this doesn’t work it’s on me. But I think this is what we needed to do to continue to bring in these young hungry guys, not older hungry guys like you and me…Maybe it won’t work, you never know.”
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation, who had been a longtime critic of the titillating ad campaign, applauded the company’s decision.
“Carl’s Jr., and other CKE Restaurants, have a long history of producing misogynistic, hyper-sexualized ads,” said NCOSE Executive Director Dawn Hawkins in a statement. “Their ads have constantly demeaned women to mere pieces of meat in lurid attempts to sell their hamburgers. We are glad that their advertisement strategies have changed, but underscore that CEO Puzder, and his future replacement Jason Marker, would be smart to commit to never create ads with such sexist themes again.”