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Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s try to capture McDonald’s customers

Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s try to capture McDonald’s customers

CEO Andy Puzder promotes the chains’ Angus burgers after McDonald’s discontinues its premium line

Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s hope to capture McDonald’s customers after the chain said it would discontinue its Angus Third Pounder burger line.

CKE Restaurant Holdings Inc. reached out with coupons and a video message on Monday that promoted its quick-service chains’ Six Dollar burger lines that feature the premium beef.

In a video message posted on YouTube, CKE chief executive Andy Puzder invited McDonald’s customers to “Reclaim Your Angus,” and offered a link to coupons for the Six Dollar Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s burgers, which are made with Black Angus beef.

Puzder said in the video that he sympathizes with McDonald’s customers, adding that the abrupt decision to discontinue the Angus Third Pounder line left many people “angry, frustrated and confused.” He then showed several unhappy Tweets by McDonald’s customers, emphasizing a “sad little frowny face” emoticon that “looks like it’s about to cry.”

“And that’s perfectly understandable,” Puzder said. “Nobody likes to be deprived of something they enjoy. So if you’re wondering where the beef is, we have it. And we’d never deprive you of it.”

After encouraging viewers to download the coupon from, Puzder concluded, “We were the first major fast-food restaurant chain to serve 100-percent Black Angus beef burgers, and now it appears we’re the only ones.”

Angus beef burgers can be found at other smaller chains, such as the 85-unit Nashville, Tenn.-based Back Yard Burgers, as well as the 200-unit fast-casual Smashburger chain, based in Denver.

CKE’s playful marketing move follows Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald’s Corp.’s announcement last month that it would remove Angus Third Pounder burgers from U.S. menus. First introduced in 2009, the burgers ranged in price from $4.39 to $4.49, but an analyst said the product never really resonated with cash-strapped, post-recession customers.

McDonald’s later said three new Quarter Pounders would replace the Angus line this month.

CKE chief marketing officer Brad Haley said Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s have featured premium Black Angus burgers for about 13 years, a move that he said not only McDonald’s but also Burger King imitated over the years without much success.

CKE also responded when McDonald’s introduced Angus burgers four years ago. At the time, Carl’s Jr. rolled out a Big Carl burger, offering twice the meat and cheese of a Big Mac at a price that was then about 50 cents less than McDonald’s recommended price for its signature sandwich.

Though Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s feature value-priced products on their menus, neither offers a dollar menu, as many quick-service competitors do. Instead, the chains have focused marketing efforts at “young, hungry men,” with ads that feature buxom actresses and models in skimpy outfits, usually eating a decadent burger.

Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s premium Six Dollar line was originally named to evoke the idea that guests were getting a high-end burger — one that might be sold at a sit-down restaurant for $6 — at a quick-service price.

Haley noted that burgers at full-service restaurants today would more likely be priced at $8 and up. Though Six Dollar burgers are generally priced around a recommended $4.49 at Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, franchisees in some pricier markets have pushed pricing closer to $6.

Eventually, a name change to the menu line will be in order, Haley said.

“It’s something we’re planning to address, but there’s still a lot of brand equity in the name,” Haley said. “Any change would be gradual.”

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected].
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout

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