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Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s Get Their Buzz Back

Last December, CKE Restaurants pulled the plug on agency David & Goliath on the approximately $50 million Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s account after less than a year, replacing it with its digital-marketing shop, 72andSunny. CKE suggested it just wasn’t getting the social buzz from D&G’s advertising that it had gotten from the shop it replaced, Mendelsohn Zien, which had created much-discussed (favorably or critically) commercials with Padma Lakshmi, Kim Kardashian and other celebrities.

Kate Upton enjoys a Southwest Patty Melt

So it wasn’t surprising was that one of 72andSunny’s first productions was a throwback to that aggressively sensual advertising. On Feb. 22, Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s brought back a past favorite, the Southwest Patty Melt burger, this time with Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kate Upton as the commercial star. In the 30-second “Drive-In” commercial, she powers through the burger while lolling suggestively in her top-down sports car.

Yes, the sexy, sloppy burger-loving babe is a bit of an old tactic for Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s. But yes, it still works, at least as far as drawing attention and creating buzz. According to CK:
◙ The 60-second “director’s cut” version of the commercial, available only online, has received more than 3.6 million views.  The total number of views hits 4.5 million when you include the original 30-second spot and two behind-the-scenes videos.

◙ Visits to Hardees.com increased 104% during the week the 60-second spot was added to the site. Carlsjr.com visits increased 83%.

◙ Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s added more than 120,000 Facebook fanes since the launch.

◙ More than 5,000 tweets have mentioned the Southwest Patty Melt, Kate @KateUpton, the ad and the brands @CarlsJr and @Hardees.

According to CKE Chief Marketing Officer Brad Haley, “we are now in the enviable position of being approached by celebrities who want to appear in our ads because of the pop-culture buzz they generate. I can’t think of any other fast-food brand that would be viewed that way by rising stars.”

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