Carl's Jr.'s sexist ads just aren't selling like they used to—finally!
For decades now, we’ve been subject to sexist ads that depict women in often dehumanizing situations. The age-old saying “sex sells” has always been a major banner of our consumer-waving flag — but fortunately for us, people are finally starting to get sick of it.
In the midst of modern feminism, it’s a bit surprising to us that fast food restaurants continue to stoop to pretty depressing levels to get our attention — and Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s is typically at the top of the list when it comes to the “ick” factor. Over the years, they’ve been objectifying celebrities like Paris Hilton, Audrina Patridge, Kim Kardashian, and even Miss Turkey 2010 Gizem Memic, all for the same purpose: to sell us burgers.
During their latest eye-roll-inducing commercial that aired during the Super Bowl, a seemingly-naked Charlotte McKinney walks through a farmer’s market to the delight of every man shopper. Spoiler alert: she’s wearing a bikini top and bootie shorts, and the burger she starts seductively eating is “all natural.” Whether or not Carl’s Jr. places these ads on television to prove no press is bad press, people are not amused.
According to copy-testing firm Ameritest, only 27% of the consumers they tested on a viewing panel said the ad made them want to visit a Carl’s Jr., which is dim in comparison to the 43% of people who typically respond positively to other restaurant ads. And according to Ad Age, not only did 52% of the Ameritest viewers find the ad offensive, 32% “felt worse” about the chain restaurant, and 51% found it “irritating and annoying.” Um, ditto!
A spokeswoman for CKE Restaurants, the company that owns Carl’s Jr., doesn’t agree with Ameritest’s study results, stating in an email to Ad Age, “Sales for the Carl’s Jr. All-Natural Burger reached a new high the week of the Super Bowl broadcast,” she said, “without seeing Ameritest’s survey methodology, I can’t comment on why their data would be inconsistent with other studies and our own actual results.”
But not so fast, Carl’s Jr. — according to Sean Scott, the senior brand consultant of Ameritest, those sales might all come down to coupons. The $1 coupon offer for the “All-Natural” burger might’ve boosted their sales, even if the sexy ads didn’t, “but they do nothing for the brand long-term,” said Mr. Scott.
Obviously, Carl’s Jr. is grasping at straws to defend how they try to sell burgers, but maybe they’d get more sales if they stopped objectifying women and instead showed us ads filled with, say, cute baby animals? We love cute baby animals. Just saying.