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Fast, Cheap and Good! Carl’s Jr. Picks All — New Campaign From GBS Puts Brand Building on Back Burner By Daniel S. Levin

SAN FRANCISCO – Carl’s Jr. has scrapped the familiar Carl and Happy Star in an effort to ch

The new commercials in the estimated $20-million campaign from Goodby, Berlin & Silverstein here are in the style of TV’s reality-based shows. They center around a fictional Burger Alert hotline, where people call with fast-food crises. The spots allow Carl’s to promote its lower prices along with a quality message. In one, for instance, a caller who panics on learning of the new pricing, is reassured by the hotline operator that quality wasn’t sacrificed.
GBS was sent back to the drawing board to develop the spots following the arrival of new Carl’s Jr. marketing vp Karen Eadon. Eadon, who came to Carl’s from Taco Bell, is believed to have originally sought work similar to that chain’s advertising. Sources said she was persuaded to approve the Burger Alert spots after sessions with the agency’s account planners and focus groups.
The ads, nevertheless, are a significant departure for GBS, which took a branding approach to the original Carl’s Jr. campaign. Though that work succeeded at achieving brand recognition, it failed to address consumers’ concerns that the food was too expensive. Those feelings have intensified as California, the Anaheim, Calif.-based chain’s key market, continues to suffer severe economic problems.
‘The whole idea of taking about fast food without talking about price or value is no longer realistic in California,’ said Jeffrey Goodby, co-chairman of GBS. ‘We gave up some of the brand building for a clearer message.’
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)