Believe it or not, the below ad sparked a debate at Ad Age earlier today. We don't like to reward the cheap publicity stunts that are unlikely to move product. But you almost have to admire the gumption here. Hardee's goes from celebuskank Paris Hilton in a Carl's Jr. spot to Padma Lakshmi, the hottest foodie in the world and formerly married to Salman Rushdie. (And who knows what's going through a Hindu's head when he sees a former coreligionist wolfing down a Thickburger?)
Some of us argued that we hold out doing anything until the company featured a celeb -- perhaps someone as respected as Helen Mirren -- having simulated sex with a hamburger. Others argued that the soft-core porn involved here was plenty, especially considering the inclusion of what I first thought was a "Letter to Penthouse" in the press release.
"I started wolfing down bacon Western cheeseburgers [sic] after school at Carl's Jr. The sublimely pleasurable taste of bacon was further enhanced by its mingling with the barbecue sauce, greedily licked off as it dripped down my teenage fingers."
Turns out that wasn't a letter to Penthouse, but rather a bit from Padma's latest cookbook, "Tangy, Tart, Hot and Sweet," published in 2007. (We guess Carl's Jr. sibling Hardee's needed the celebrity boost more this time around.)
Besides, in this case, we can see a certain demographic developing an interest in Thickburgers after viewing the ad, which was created by Mendelsohn Zien. Heck, they might even develop an interest in "Top Chef" and reading cookbooks. And while that Paris Hilton ad for Carl's Jr. made me want to scratch my nethers and take a boiling hot shower, it did put the regional chain on the nation's radar.