CKE Restaurants Inc., the parent company of Carl’s Jr. and sister brand Hardee’s, became well known for its buzz-generating ads that feature sexy celebrities and the company’s indulgent burgers. Most recently the company gained attention for the lack of models in bikinis in its new advertising campaign for hand-breaded chicken sandwiches. But whether touting an oversized burger or lower-calorie turkey burger, the company maintains its appeal to its target demographic by using commercial stars that speak of the food in terms most attractive to them.
We take a look at some of the quick-service brand's most memorable commercial spots.
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The one that started it all
The company set the tone for appealing to a demographic of “young, hungry men” when Paris Hilton stripped down to her bathing suit to wash a car while eating a Carl's Jr. Spicy BBQ Burger. It was the start of a campaign that starred other female celebrities such as Padma Lakshmi and Audrina Partridge to highlight the indulgent nature of the chains’ food.
Unapologetic about indulgence
Earlier this year, CKE celebrated its legacy of attractive models and “big, fat, juices-running-down-your-arm kind of burgers” with a commercial titled “Anthem.” Besides cameos from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and actress Olivia Munn, the commercial also featured CEO Andy Puzder declaring, “We’re Carl’s Jr., and that’s just the way it is.”
READ MORE: CKE unapologetic about indulgence in new ads
Charbroiled turkey burgers
When Carl's Jr. rolled out its less-than-500 calories, char-broiled turkey burger, the company enlisted — who else? — Miss Turkey to promote the line. Miss Turkey wasn’t the first time a sultry model was used to promote more healthful menu items. For example, Kim Kardashian previously starred in a commercial for Carl’s Jr.’s Cranberry Apple Walnut Grilled Chicken Salad.
RELATED: Chains adding more low-cal menu items
Hand-breaded chicken filet sandwich
Most recently, Los Angeles-based ad agency David & Goliath, which also produced the “Anthem” and Miss Turkey ads, created a television commercial for a new hand-breaded chicken filet sandwich. The commercial starred a robot that sits down to enjoy the sandwich, only to realize that he doesn’t actually have a mouth with which to eat it.
While the lack of babes in bikinis seemed like a departure from the norm, the company’s spokesperson Beth Mansfield said the company was not shifting away from tradition.
“We still have hot models,” Mansfield said. “They’re just not in every spot.”
READ MORE: No bikinis: CKE launches new ad campaign