BK and Paris: It's not a match

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Burger King Corp., which has been in negotiations with Paris Hilton to star in an advertising campaign, is now backing away, worried that franchisees may find the hotel heiress too hot to handle.

The No. 2 burger chain had hoped to advance its newfound momentum by using the leggy blonde in its advertising. But her racy reputation concerned franchisees even as the work was being developed, said executives close to the marketer.

`extreme baggage'

"Given the extreme baggage she carries, it was killed," said one, although another executive said it was more due to timing issues with Ms. Hilton. Known as much for a film of her sexual gymnastics circulated on the Internet as for her starring role in Fox's "The Simple Life," Ms. Hilton already was a sore subject with the chain's franchisees. Some had earlier refused to put out table cards featuring her and co-star Nicole Richie that hyped Burger King's appearance in "The Simple Life 2."

Burger King and its agency, MDC Corp.'s Crispin, Porter & Bogusky, Miami, declined comment. Hilton's public relations agent said in a voicemail message, "We don't have a deal yet."

The World Entertainment News Network in the U.K. last week reported that Ms. Hilton was offered $750,000 for the spot, which would have included her original music, and that photographer David LaChappelle was selected to direct the effort. Mr. LaChappelle's representatives declined to comment. Ms. Hilton's debut album, "Paris is Burning," is due to be released on her own Heiress Records.

While the talks come at a time of strength for Burger King-July's same-store sales were up 12.9% over the prior year-a former industry executive said it was smart to call off the Paris plan. "Paris Hilton would be the poster child for taking on celebrity risk. There's nothing about Paris Hilton that elevates the Burger King brand."

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