A very interesting thing happened last week, but I’m not sure how it bodes politically if it abodes at all. Back in December, President Trump announce the nomination of Andrew Puzder for Secretary of Labor. Puzder was at the time the CEO of  CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. hamburger fast-food chains. He withdrew because of his views about lower wage workers, allegations that he abused his first wife, along with complaints about how workers were treated at CKE’s Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants. Puzder also admitted to employing an undocumented immigrant as a housekeeper, whom he says he let go upon learning of her status. In addition to his inability to detangle his financial assets from anything that might constitute a conflict of interest, Pudzer withdrew his nomination when it became apparent ckethat he was not going to get the Senate votes necessary for confirmation. Shortly, after his nomination failed Pudzer announced he would step down from CKE in April 2017.

But, this post really isn’t about Andrew Pudzer’s 17 year tenure at CKE – it is about the new direction of CKE’ s marketing.

It appears that Carl’s Jr./ Hardee’s days of commercials showing scantily clothed women eating huge hamburgers as sexily as possible are over with Pudzer’s exit. It’s no secret that Pudzer personally enjoyed his commercials ( perhaps too much so) and as he told Entrepreneur Magazine in 2015, “If you […the public] don’t complain, I go to the head of marketing and say, ‘What’s wrong with our ads?'”

With a change of management, a change of marketing direction is expected. What was not expected was that CKE would pull their ad campaign directly from Foodmaker Company’s 1994 Jack in the Box’ Jack’s Back commercial which is below:

The Jack’s Back commercial and the ad campaign that followed were designed to reestablish the brand following their 1993 E.coli outbreak and the 1981 accusation of using horse meat in their tacos. The ad campaign continued for almost 20 years and was very successful in doing what it was designed to do – repairing a damaged brand.  Even today, the rebranding campaign of Jack in the Box is taught in business schools along with the 1982 Tylenol crisis.

The new Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s commercial takes a page out of the Jack In the Box playbook with the approach of “what we did yesterday was wrong and we’re returning to what we do right.” How do I know that’s the approach? Watch the women employees in this commercial. Their faces are signaling you who this commercial is aimed at and it’s not just men. It’s a statement that they are walking away from Pudzer’s immature, sexist commercials and returning to the pre-Pudzer days, reminding customers that they are a family restaurant.

Will the new marketing campaign be successful? We’ll know in a year, but we do know one thing. With Pudzer gone, the misogynistic commercials are gone and for now, that’s a good thing. The new 3 minute commercial is below:

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