Paris Hilton ad sparks imitation

The hot controversy over Paris Hilton’s sexy burger ads for Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s has not translated into a surge of sales at the fast-food outlets.

CKE Restaurants, parent company of both chains, says Carl’s Jr. posted a 1.7 percent rise in same-store sales for the four weeks ending June 20, while Hardee’s notched an increase of 0.7 percent.

According to Advertising Age, during a conference call with analysts, Anton Brenner of Roth Capital Partners said: “Particularly looking at Carl’s same-store sales, it doesn’t appear that there is a noticeable boost from the Paris Hilton ads. … They might have gotten a lot of attention, it’s hard to squint and see how it has impacted your actual sales performance.”

But Andrew Puzder, president and CEO of CKE called the impact of Hilton’s commercials “nothing short of phenomenal,” adding, “As I am sure you’ve heard others say, you can’t buy this kind of publicity.”

He put the figures into a positive light by combining them with the two-year cumulative period, which saw an increase of 9.9 percent. He also mentioned 28 consecutive periods of rising sales.

But when pushed by analysts about the tepid sales, Ad Age says Puzder pointed out the spicy burger had already been on the market for up to three months, making it lack the “newness” factor.

Super-sized spoof version of Paris Hilton ad

“Where would we’ve been without this Paris Hilton ad in this period?” Puzder said. “We certainly would have sold a whole lot less. I mean we have a lot of people going into restaurants ordering ‘The Paris Hilton burger,’ which was our Spicy Barbecue burger, and you’ve certainly wouldn’t have had those sales but for running the Paris ads. So I think we are – we were very pleased with the results.”

Meanwhile, a company that owns some 330 Hardee’s franchises in four southeastern states has decided against showing the controversial ads.

“We’ve never done anything like this before, where we’ve said, ‘We’re not running this ad.’ It may happen again in the future, but this one gathered so much talk and controversy behind it that we just made the stand not to run it,” Bill Boddie, president of Boddie-Noell Enterprises, told Virginia’s Roanoke Times.

“I think what he [Boddie] is doing is commendable, and he should be applauded, and I think other franchisees should follow his lead,” Melissa Caldwell of the Parents Television Council told the paper. “He’s standing up to CKE Restaurants and choosing not to show this ad that is clearly irresponsible. The commercial is basically soft-core porn. It’s being targeted to young men, but it’s been shown where young children can see it.”

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Paris Hilton burger ad too spicy for television?

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