Hef Is to Dating as Carl’s Jr. Is to Variety

LOS ANGELES Playboy founder Hugh Hefner appears in his first full-fledged commercial campaign as an advocate of variety—in girlfriends and Carl’s Jr. restaurant-style burgers.

The first of three television spots from Mendlesohn/Zien debuts today; the other two will break later this month.

The initial ad plays off Hefner’s reputation for changing girlfriends as capriciously as some do hamburger styles: “People always ask me, ‘Hey, Hef, do you have favorites?’ I tell them ‘No’, it’s not about that,” Hefner says. “I love ’em all. It just depends on what I am in the mood for.” Intercut throughout Hefner’s comments, shot in shaky-cam style, three unidentified models play along: “He can have anything he wants. I don’t know how he makes the choice,” one of them says. The voiceover tag is: “Because some guys don’t like the same thing night after night.”

“The blonde is his girlfriend,” said Jordin Mendelsohn, co-managing partner and creative director of the Los Angeles shop. “The other two are actual Playboy Playmates that we cast. We wanted it to feel as if they were Hugh’s girls and make the point that variety’s the spice of life.”

The two spots breaking later present variations on the creative theme and feature different Carl’s Jr. burgers. “In the second, Hefner says that it’s hard to make up his mind, and that he likes them all, not one more than another,” explained Mendelsohn. “There are intercut flashes of Playboy models as he talks, but they have no lines. In the third spot, there are no girls, and Hugh talks about knowing what guys like, and that as much as they like Miss February, they are looking forward to Miss March, then compares that to burgers.”

Mendelsohn said the spots were shot at the Playboy mansion, though he decided to avoid a master-shot setup for a documentary texture. “I was tempted, but I wanted to contemporize him.” The commercials were directed by thirtysomething veteran Dan Lerner.

Mendelsohn said that Hefner has appeared in a cameo for a Fox Sports spot and in a print effort for Tanqueray, but that this is his first full-blown campaign.

Carl’s Jr. spent $42 million advertising in 2002 and $30 million the first half of this year, per Nielson Monitor-Plus.

Recommended articles