Carl's Jr. and Hardee's are all about big breasts -- chicken breasts, that is.
The chains' just-launched Big Chicken Filet Sandwich is being promoted as having the "biggest chicken breasts in fast food." To prove the point, this weekend the company tomorrow launches a commercial from 72andSunny titled "Everybody Wants Some" -- apparently even roosters, who are shown in the ad running amok to the tune of Poison's "Nothin' But a Good Time" in search of bigger chicken breasts.
Carl's Jr. and Hardee's have been long known for ads featuring scantily clad women, and some might call this one suggestive, albeit tamer than the chains's spots featuring Paris Hilton.
Brad Haley, CMO of CKE Restaurants, which owns Carl's Jr. and Hardee's, said that the chicken ad isnt' really suggestive but more of a "double entendre kind of a joke." He noted that 72andSunny's final product was a response to the creative brief, which was to communicate that this sandwich has the biggest chicken breasts in the fast-food industry. "It's kind of a tongue in cheek story about about large breasts, but they happen to be about chicken breasts."
Mr. Haley also said that while the ads featuring scantily clad women are the most talked about, they are by no means everything the chain does in terms of marketing. "Those ads are obviously the most memorable, and they have the most viral appeal. And they generate [significant] earned media impressions." But he added that the company often does movie tie-ins, most recently with "X-Men: Days of Future Past."
The first ad for the new chicken sandwich was titled "Go Big on Flavor" and featured "American Daredevils" TV star and stuntman Bryan Spangler.
The new sandwich's promotion is the latest by Carl's Jr. and Hardee's to blast the competition. In November, the chains launched a campaign for their new buns, touting the fact that they are fresh baked -- and taking aim at rivals who bake their bread off premise.
The new sandwich may be bigger than most competitiors' chicken sandwiches, but the company is not the only one to come out with a product promoted as bigger or bolder. KFC in April brought back the Double Down, a limited-time breadless chicken sandwich that includes two chicken filets and bacon and is widely considered outrageous. Taco Bell has garnered countless social-media mentions with its Waffle Taco.
In fact, chains have been offering attention-getting products for years. In the mid-2000s, Burger King introduced its Enormous Omelet Sandwich, which was geared toward the same demographic that Carl's Jr. and Hardee's cater to: young men. Pizza Hut last year unveiled a product with the word crazy in the name: the Crazy Cheesy Crust Pizza, which is a pizza with 16 cheese pockets.
So are we looking at a wave of even crazier products, or is the bar for bigger and more outrageous being set higher? "I wouldn't say that chains are ratcheting up [bigger and more outrageous products], but they're certainly not slowing down," said Mary Chapman, director-product innoation at Technomic. In reality, they're often novelty items designed to attract attention. "It's more about the conversation than the actual products, and the reminder to go to the restaurant. I don't think anyone's expecting anyone to eat a Double Down a couple times a week."
But Carl's Jr. and Hardee's new chicken sandwich isn't a novelty item -- it's a permanent menu item. The sandwich includes a 5-ounce chicken breast, which Mr. Haley said is bigger than other fast-food chains' chicken sandwich offering, which typically have three- to four-ounce breasts. He added that Carl's and Hardee's typically strive to offer food that's higher quality than other fast food chains, with portions that are more like those at casual-dining chains.
Not surprisingly, nutrition advocates are not fond of the new sandwich. "The last thing Americans need is bigger food servings," said Margo Wootan, director-nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "Upselling and getting people to buy bigger food [servings] is a strategy that food companies have very effectively used to earn more money, but unfortunately it's also been effective in expanding America's waistlines and contributing to obesity."