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It’s About Time: Hardee’s, Carl’s Jr. Marketing Matures


Yeah, yeah, yeah—sex sells. But it’s certainly not a sophisticated approach when a major international brand resorts to scantily clad models and junior-high-level sexual innuendo to sell its products. I suspect I’m but one of many in the franchising industry breathing a sigh of relief as Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. finally, mercifully announce a new marketing approach that’s focused on food quality, innovation and its history as a QSR pioneer. Yup, sounds great. Honestly, anything would be an improvement.

Calling its new advertising direction “Pioneers of the Great American Burger,” that will serve as the company’s new ad tagline that doesn’t shy away from its big, beefy, bold burgers that visually stand out from every other quick-service competitor.

In announcing the news, CKE said it’s “always been driven by a pioneering spirit,” adding that “whether it was being the first hamburger QSR chain to char broil burgers, igniting the movement toward all-natural products with the All-Natural Burger or introducing the all-you-can-drink beverage bar, nobody has done more to shape the world of fast food as we know it than Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s."

With a range of new commercials and ads, the company is touching on its newly modernized company logos, fancy new food photography and better looking product packaging.

Wow, doesn’t that feel better already? It sure does.

As my friends, family and coworkers can attest, I’m no prude, but the company’s previous marketing always made me shudder, especially knowing that these racy ads were running in some Middle Eastern markets that are much more conservative than modern America.

The new imagery looks contemporary and intriguing. There are still some remnants of the old focus with some busty ladies in the background, but at least they’re not front and center, cheapening the entire brand. I remember: puberty (and growing up) is a long, winding road.

Kudos to you, CKE. You’ve weathered some harsh press in recent years, changed the guard with the resignation of former CEO Andy Puzder and you've put a glossy, wonderfully more mature spin on a your products that are truly differentiated and worth celebrating. This is an improvement for your brand, good for your franchisees and, ultimately, good for this industry as a whole.

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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Tom KaiserTom Kaiser is senior editor of Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3209, or send story ideas to tkaiser@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is editor-in-chief of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is managing editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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