By Ward Carroll
Over the last five years or so fast food chain Carl’s Jr. staked the brand with commercials that featured bikini-clad supermodels like Paris Hilton and Kate Upton provocatively eating drippy burgers while washing sports cars. Critics claimed the ads were pornographic and responded with hashtag campaigns like #CutTheCarls and #MoreThanMeat that called for a boycott of the chain.
But the company’s leader was bullish on the strategy.
“We believe in putting hot models in our commercials because ugly ones don’t sell burgers,” Andy Puzder, CEO of CKE Holdings (the parent company of Carl’s Jr.), said in a 2011 press release. “We target hungry guys, and we get young kids that want to be young hungry guys.” He continued defending the commercials last year, saying, “I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American.”
Now Carl’s Jr. has made a dramatic pivot with a new ad that features Carl Sr. returning to the fold to clean up his son’s act. The ad has already gone viral. Some media and marketing experts have said it’s a victory for conservative values while others are claiming the spot’s appeal is a function of a country already weary of an impulsive and tweet-happy man-child at America’s helm.
Whatever it is, the ad is awesome. Oh, and you fans of “Nashville” (formerly on ABC now airing on CMT) will recognize Carl Sr. as Charles Esten, the actor who plays Deacon on the show.
Check it out: