Burgers, Not Bikinis: How Carl's Jr. is Now Getting it Right
Some of you have probably seen this video floating around the internet lately. And if you haven't seen it, go ahead—watch it before you read on. This extended commercial is Carl's Jr.'s way of announcing their extensive rebranding overhaul. Basically, they are doing away with their "sex sells" attitude, and turning towards a more mature reasons-to-believe type of advertising approach.
Parent company CKE decided it was time to turn over a new leaf, one without car wash bikini babes. So, with the help of ad agency 72andSunny, they were able to make the change in a self-aware and self-deprecating way. The full rebrand includes a new image, new tagline, new logo, and (most importantly) a story.
Sure, sexy shock factors work for advertising, but not for long; eventually, every brand needs a story. And the chief marketing officer of CKE, Brad Haley, realized their 'story' was rather lacking.
"Since premiering our now iconic ad starring Paris Hilton 12 years ago, Carl's Jr. and Hardee's have become synonymous with two things: bikinis and burgers. While those provocative ads generated a lot of buzz for our brands and were very successful for us, it was very difficult for that kind of an ad to tell a more comprehensive story about the long list of things we do to make better food than anyone else in our space... or better food than most sit-down restaurants for that matter."
That's the key to their rebrand: a good, personable, down to earth story. Not only is their new story creative (Carl Sr. stepping in to correct irresponsible Jr.'s mistakes), but also it provides room for more growth in their company. Carl Hardee Sr.'s values, history, and passion for quality are now pivot points for all future marketing. This will allow customers to connect with the brand, trust the company, and create a lasting relationship; all things the" bikinis & burgers" code could never do.
CKE's rebranding choice is evidence that content marketing is gaining more attention and is here to stay, for good reason too—it works. Storytelling is essentially the heart of content marketing because without it, a brand has no foundation and no direction. And with it, a brand has loyal customers and success. Don't take it from us though; the Content Marketing Institute explains storytelling as follows:
"Storytelling is not intended to be a 'selling' tool; it's a method of building strong relationships with your customers and a thriving community of loyalist over time. Your story identifies what your passions are and serves as the foundation of all your future content developments."
So, the moral of this story? You can't build a company on bikinis. Rather, a successful and lasting company is built on a story that customers can connect to and appreciate. Kudos to Carl's Jr. for making the switch. We can't wait to see what happens.