Unsure of what to write about, I asked my thirteen-year-old daughter’s advice for a writing prompt. She suggested I write about how advertising has changed since I was her age and then reminded me of how I’m always complaining about the Carl’s Jr. commercials and billboards. So here it goes a little combination of the two.
Clearly I am not the target audience of Carl’s Jr. If I make it through a commercial, I’m embarrassed for women everywhere and am more likely to have self-esteem issues than to eat a burger. Regardless of my own issues, most concerning is that these commercials are on regular television and the ones online are even worse. As a parent of three children, I don’t appreciate Carl’s Jr. advertisements because it prompts questions like, “Mom, what’s the mile high club?” and “What is that girl doing with her hamburger?” And a number of other questions I can guarantee I never asked my mom.
When I was a kid Carl’s Jr. had Happy the Star. Remember him? He was cute, friendly and so not controversial. In 1984, Carl’s Jr. was excited to share the big deal and in the early 1990s they encouraged customers to go for the food. Sure the commercials weren’t award winning but they aren’t winning any awards now either.
Then in the mid-1990s the company retired Happy the Star and rolled out their “If it doesn’t get all of the place, it doesn’t belong in your face” campaign. While the slogan could be somewhat questionable, the advertisements like the one featuring Dennis Rodman, although messy, were not disgustingly sexual or offensive at first. While some criticized the advertisements, the LA Times reported the campaign was a success and sales for the burger company were higher than ever. Fast forward to 2005 Paris Hilton does a commercial half-naked—wait she may be more than half-naked—washing a car and eating a burger. Oh and in case you missed that one she did an encore commercial in 2014 and brought a friend. Nine years later. Really?
For nearly a decade, Carl’s Jr. has utilized this same line of marketing. And the commercials just keep getting worse it seems. Well maybe that is not entirely true. Maybe Carl’s Jr. is trying to clean it up. The most recent commercial I saw, the mile high club, I have to admit I didn’t tell my children to avert their eyes right away. The woman at least has clothes on but the language and actions are just so overtly suggestive. Haven’t we seen enough? And can’t we just move on? I’m almost afraid to ask but what is next for the company? Where do they go from here? Maybe full nudity with a side of fries by 2020…who knows.