Anita Santiago Getting Edged Out at Carl’s Jr.

LOS ANGELES Carl’s Jr. is ending its relationship with Anita Santiago Advertising, said a client representative.

The independent agency in Santa Monica, Calif., had handled Hispanic advertising for the fast-food chain for eight years, and was responsible for creative and media. Carl’s Jr., a subsidiary of CKE Restaurants, has spent more than $1 million in recent years on ads targeting the Hispanic community, although Nielsen Monitor-Plus recorded no spending for 2003.

“We think they did a good job, but our creative was going in a different direction,” said Christie Cooney, a representative for the Carpinteria, Calif.-based client. She added that Carl’s Jr.’s general-market shop, Mendelsohn/Zien in Los Angeles, has been doing some “cutting-edge creative” that is “a little out on the edge compared to what Anita Santiago is used to.”

Agency president Anita Santiago said the split comes as Carl’s Jr. reduces its Hispanic ad budget. “They are going to translations and we don’t do that,” she said.

Earlier this month, Carl’s Jr. launched a television campaign with Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, who was featured as an advocate of variety in girlfriends and Carl’s Jr. restaurant-style burgers [, Nov. 3].

Past Hispanic efforts from Anita Santiago included a 2002 TV spot with Latin singer Gerardo, best known for his 1990s hit, “Rico Suave,” singing and dancing while enjoying a Carl’s Jr. burger poolside with a bevy of bikini-clad women. This year, the shop’s ads included spots that contained “uplifting social content” such as a female boxer, said Santiago. Ads have been tagged, “Con mucho gusto,” which translates to “With lots of taste” as well as “Happy to meet you.”

Carl’s Jr. will work with Anita Santiago through February 2004, said Cooney. She added that the fast-food chain would not launch a search for a Hispanic agency in the near future, but would handle some projects internally and possibly work with freelancers.