Carl's Jr., Hardee's Hand Creative to 72andSunny Without a Review

Fast Feeder Parts Ways With David & Goliath After Less Than A Year

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Less than a year after hiring indie shop David & Goliath to handle creative work for Carl's Jr. and Hardee's, parent company CKE Restaurants has moved the account to 72andSunny, without a review.

Carl's Jr. burger
Carl's Jr. burger

MDC Partners-owned 72andSunny had been on the roster, handling digital duties. The sudden change comes as the fast-food marketer has expressed dissatisfaction with the creative product.

Said Brad Haley, chief marketing officer at CKE Restaurants, in a statement: "We would like to thank David & Goliath for their hard work and dedication over the past year. They are a great group of people, but we became concerned about the recent direction of the advertising and determined that we needed to make a change."

Carl's Jr. and Hardee's media agency, Interpublic's Initiative , and its PR agency, Weber Shandwick, were not affected by the creative move.

"We had an amazing run with CKE and helped them achieve their second-most-successful burger launch in the last decade, with the Turkey Burger," said David Angelo, founder-chief creative officer at David & Goliath, in a statement. "The Turkey Burger launch reversed Carl's Jr.'s declining sales and substantially increased the positive momentum of Hardee's sales. We wish them well and will continue to pursue brands that embrace our Brave philosophy. We certainly have an appetite for fast food."

Before D&G, CKE worked with Hakuhodo-owned Mendelsohn Zien for 16 years. It put the creative account into review in October 2010, and the incumbent participated in the review with David & Goliath and 72andSunny.

According to people familiar with the matter, that pitch was sparked by the departure of two top creatives on the account, Mick DiMaria and Justin Hooper, who left Mendelsohn Zien for 72andSunny. The review wrapped up in January.

While at Mendelsohn Zien, Messrs. DiMaria and Hooper were behind the Kim Kardashian and Padma Lakshmi ads, spots that exemplified Carl's Jr.'s sexed-up image. D&G's first ad, launched in March, featured a bikini-clad Miss Turkey touting the chains' turkey burger. People familiar with the matter said that the work by D&G was viewed as "more generic" than the work done by Mendelsohn Zien. It now remains to be seen if CKE will return to the sexy ads.

CKE in September posted its second-fiscal-quarter results, which showed Carl's Jr. up 2% and Hardee's up 2.5%. Year-to-date, Carl's Jr. was up 2%, Hardee's was up 6.4% and combined sales were up 4.1%. CKE in 2010 was bought out by private-equity firm Apollo Management in an estimated $1 billion deal.

The combined budgets for both restaurant chains in 2010 was $63.6 million in domestic measured media, according to Kantar, up from $50.3 million in 2009. For the first eight months of 2011, U.S. measured media spend was $39.5 million, according to Kantar. The Carpinteria, Calif.-based chain, which has more than 3,100 restaurants in 42 states and 18 countries, also owns smaller restaurant brands such as Red Burrito and Green Burrito.

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