Carl's Jr. enters the chicken sandwich wars with intense food porn

Videos from 72andSunny for the CKE chain and sibling Hardee's appear on OnlyFans (that platform known for the other kind of porn)

Published On
May 14, 2021

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This week, CKE Restaurants’ sibling brands Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s made their debut in the chicken sandwich wars with not one, but three new offerings: a hand-breaded chicken sandwich, a breakfast version with waffles and another, served on a buttermilk biscuit. CKE’s ammo of choice to promote them? Food porn. 

Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s agency of record 72andSunny created a series of suggestive, food-centric videos that luxuriate in the sandwiches’ various assets. A finger slowly caresses a cushiony bun. Another digit drips with honey falling into the crevices of a waffle. A hand strokes a giant pickle. 

 

 

Appropriately, Carl’s Jr. and Hardees are sharing the content on social site OnlyFans, which has a reputation as the platform of choice for porn stars because it allows them more freedom in monetizing their content. It’s quite the departure from CKE’s competitors, which have remained in more family-friendly territory. McDonald’s for example, called in its other menu items to help get the word out for its crispy chicken sandwich; KFC cited its longstanding cred in serving fowl; Popeye’s cleverly rallied its internet fans with a now-famous two-word tweet

 

 
 

The OnlyFans content marks a first for a national QSR brand and appears on the  Hot & Hand-Breaded channel. Playful descriptions on the video read as if they could appear on other kinds of content:  “Get a little rough with those buns,” says one. “You into food play?” asks another. “Our fingers are soooooooooo sticky,” reads a third. The videos are part of a broader campaign that  also includes a partnership with Vice’s food channel “Munchies.” Additionally, there will be paid national media behind the overallly platform across digital and TV.

As for how CKE decided to go the OnlyFans route, Patty Trevino, SVP of marketing, CKE Restaurants tells AdAge, "With a market heavily saturated in chicken sandwich messaging, we knew we had to introduce our Hand-Breaded Chicken Platform in an unconventional way." The brief to agency 72andSunny "was simple," she adds. "How do you take a conventional sandwich and introduce it in the most unconventional way?”

She says the approach with the marketing follows suit with the company's approach to its food. "Hand-Breaded Chicken is at the core of the company's roots, after first serving our famous Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders more than a decade ago at Hardee’s," Trevino says. "Anytime we launch a new menu item, we like to take our time to ensure our guests will be overwhelmingly satisfied and taking our time with these sandwiches we know was worth it. From the marketing side, we saw a unique opportunity to break into the 'wars' in our signature style. The campaign was influenced by our roots in showing up where the cultural conversation is. In this case, that was OnlyFans."

Trevino acknowledges that Carl's Jr. and Hardee's marketing has evolved since the days of its bikini babes, with ads featuring the likes of Charlotte McKinney and Jessica Simpson. The new work, however, feels like a playful nod to that history. "We’ve definitely moved away from our former advertising, but the core of our brand is cultural relevance and fun, tongue-and-cheek," she says.