Carl’s Jr. Cleans Up

Messy Eating Theme Absent From New Ads
LOS ANGELES–After five years of celebrating messy eating habits, Carl’s Jr. is altering its message, but maintaining a food-focused strategy.
Starting this week, the Anaheim, Calif.-based fast-food chain rolls out a two-pronged TV campaign in the West via longtime agency Mendelsohn/Zien. Absent from the ads are the old tagline, “If it doesn’t get all over the place, it doesn’t belong in your face,” and the familiar ketchup drip.
Some of the new spots take a voyeuristic look at people’s eating habits, with the tag “Don’t bother me, I’m eating.” The others follow the misadventures of a twentysomething male in the unfamiliar surroundings of a supermarket. The tag, “Without us, some guys would starve,” targets frequent fast-food customers, said Jordin Mendelsohn, the Los Angeles agency’s executive creative director.
“This is one campaign with two parts. There’s none of the smile-and-bite you see in other fast-food commercials,” he said.
Agency president Richard Zien called the ads an “evolution” of the effort. Although some people criticized earlier ads for promoting slovenliness, sales have steadily climbed since M/Z won the account in 1995.
“Clearly, consistency has paid off,” said Robert W. Wisely, evp of marketing for Carl’s Jr. parent CKE Restaurants.
CKE franchises and licenses more than 900 Carl’s Jr. restaurants in 13 Western states and Mexico.