Hardee's and Carl's Jr. Promote Sex, Not Healthy Food

As other fast-food restaurants promote healthier menu options, CKE Restaurants is sticking with good-tasting food and selling it with sex. A Wall Street Journal article describes the company's new ads:

"New ads promoting 'The Most American Thickburger' feature Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Samantha Hoopes donning an American flag bikini as she frolics in a hot tub on the back of a pickup truck."

One burger weighs in at 1,000 calories, and the company isn't apologizing for it. In an interview, CKE's Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Brad Haley defends the strategy:

"We advertise in a way that appeals our target–young, hungry guys. Sometime they like attractive models. Sometimes our ads are funny or they have an edge to them.

"We are not afraid to take a chance to build our relationship with our target audience, 18-to-34-year-old males. If it's something they love but maybe their moms and dads don't approve of, in a lot of ways that can help us form a stronger bond with our target."

Haley responds to other pointed questions about "crossing a line," "scantily-clad models," ad spending, and the high-calorie food. 

Discussion Starters: 

  • What's your view of CKE's strategy? Is the company missing a trend and a moving market, or is it appropriately targeting its customers? 
  • How well did the CMO respond to the reporter's questions? Which responses, if any, could be improved?