New Carl’s Jr. Campaign Focuses on Ingredients with No Sex Appeal

By Patrick Coffee 

Last month we learned that the two creative leads on the Carl’s Jr. account would be leaving 72andSunny at the end of the year. According to various parties, the reason for their departure was the client’s desire to move in another direction creatively. Our sources strongly suggested that the work would feature fewer women in various stages of undress, which implies a greater focus on the product itself.

The newest Carl’s Jr. campaign debuted this week (AdAge covered it last Friday), and it’s very much in keeping with that theory. First, the anthem spot argues — as many ads before it have — that grass-fed beef is simply better.

From the first line, it feels like Carl’s Jr. is looking for a complete break from its role as a standard fast food chain.

Note that she said it’s almost a culinary masterpiece. The same applies to the biscuits and chicken tenders, with a focus on the process behind the product.

Ethan gets a little obsessive.

In speaking to AdAge, the company’s CMO Brad Haley pretty much denied that its marketing has consciously taken a different tack:

“One of the hallmarks of the millennial generation is they want authenticity and so what better way, in this case, to deliver it than to have real employees being honest with them about the food that they’re making. Since we do take a variety of approaches I’m not sure that I’d say that we’ve changed. This is a little bit different but not a lot different, at least in terms of how we’ve advertised our breakfast products in the past.”

That’s kind of an unusual quote since only the biscuit is a breakfast item.

Yesterday saw a spot for a specific new product: the beer cheese bacon burger, created in partnership with Budweiser.

None of these ads resembled the Carl’s Jr. we’ve come to know over the past 7 or 8 years. You’d have to go back three months to find that last one in that vein.

Aside from the beer burger, there’s nothing new here. The campaign sort of resembles Hill Holliday’s recent work for Chili’s in going the all-natural, real people route.

Is this the new Carl’s Jr.? Maybe. But none of these ads have received anywhere near the total views or the media attention afforded to those racier spots.

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