Hardee’s Franchisee Tells Chain to Clean Up Its Ads

NEW YORK Boddie-Noell Enterprises in North Carolina, which claims to be the largest Hardee’s franchisee in the country, has vowed not to use the restaurant chain’s controversial biscuit hole ad and also says it will press Hardee’s parent CKE to clean up the campaign and eliminate the spots “in all markets.”

The franchisee’s move came after it received a complaint about the spots — which, with tongue firmly in cheek, use terms like A-hole, B-hole, sweet balls and “bisticals” as potential names for the new biscuit holes that compete with products such as Dunk’n Donuts’ doughnut holes.

The complaint came from the Alexandria, Va.-based Parents Television Council. The PTC objected to the “racy” and “brainless” nature of the biscuit hole campaign, which it contends is inappropriate for family viewing. “There is no possible way that this brainless biscuit hole promotion fits in with the personal and community decency standards espoused by Hardee’s restaurants across the nation and their hard-working owners,” said PTC president Tim Winter in a statement.

In a letter responding to the complaint, released by the PTC, Boddie-Noell Enterprises chairman Ben Mayo Boddie said, “I agree with you 100 percent. Why in heaven’s name does Hardee’s Food Systems and [the marketer’s Los Angeles ad shop] Mendelsohn Zien Advertising want to put Hardee’s in a category that diminishes not only the product but the brand itself?”

Mayo Boddie said BNE, which operates almost 350 Hardee’s restaurants in the Carolinas, Virginia and Kentucky, does not plan to air the spots in any markets “that we control.” He did not identify precisely which markets his company controls, and a rep at the company did not immediately return a call seeking clarification.

Mayo Boddie also told the PTC that BNE would ask the parent company to eliminate the spots across the country. He also sent the letter to CKE executives and Richard Zien at Mendelsohn Zien.

Hardees said it would not pull the ad and issued this statement: “CKE Restaurants, Inc., owner and franchisor of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants, adopts a creative approach to our advertising. It is intended to communicate the core message of our premium quality food to our target audience of Young, Hungry Guys. We do not aim to exclude or offend any other group with our efforts, but merely to appeal and amuse a very specific audience. We understand that not everyone may view our advertising the same way and we respect all views. With respect to the referenced commercial for Biscuit Holes, the spot is only airing after 9 p.m. Our franchisees have the opportunity to provide input on which commercials will air in their respective markets and can choose not to air any that they might have a particular concern with. There are no present plans to drop the ads.”

Praising Mayo Boddie’s response, Winter said the PTC was urging other franchisees to follow franchisee’s lead. “The Hardee’s marketing team seems intent on pushing the boundaries at every turn whether we’re talking about ‘iced B-holes’ or the company’s attempts at turning hamburgers into sex objects,” he said. “Each and every local franchisee can and should object, and every Hardee’s customer has the right to patronize a more responsible fast-food restaurant chain.”

Related: “Hardee’s Commercials Dig Even Deeper Hole”