Monthly Archives: January 2005

Hardee’s Food Porn

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) recently accused the fast food chain Hardees (which is the sister chain of Carl’s Jr.) of “food porn”. According to the CSPI, the main offender at Hardees is their Monster Thickburger, which has two patties, three slices of cheese, and four strips of bacon, for a total of 1,200 calories and 34 grams (almost two days’ worth) of saturated fat. As you would expect, the burger is pretty good although it’s probably not the first recommendation of a cardiologist. (or maybe it should be to increase doctor’s visits)

I’m not a nutritionist. I’m a marketer. So even more fascinating to me than the nutritional impact of the burger is the advertising campaign for the burgers that also has a pornographic twist to it.

First some background. Hardees had lost its way. They had everything on the menu from fried chicken to roast beef. It was a lot of variety, but nothing stood out. About two years ago, apparently someone came in who knew what they were doing. They completely revamped the menu and made the promise they were going to only focus on great burgers and nothing else (a promise they’ve already broken, by the way).

This new Hardees was initially promoted with an ad campaign that had some very simple commercials that actually trashed the restaurant and said they were going to do better. Many of the spots criticized McDonalds and the other fast food chains as being for kids. The takeaway was that if you’re a cool guy that loves a great burger, Hardees is the place for you. The campaign is so effective that it’s affected McDonalds marketing. Have you see the new male-focused Quarter Pounder with Cheese campaign?

In the second phase of their campaign, Hardee’s has changed up their strategy a bit. With the target demo for the ads being 18-34 men, it’s understandable the technique that Hardees is now using to get these guys.

Sex. Good-old-fashioned-red-blooded-American sex appeal.

Typical spots now include an attractive young blonde riding a mechanical bull while eating a Thickburger (isn’t that the way everyone eats a burger?) Another spot has a young lady waiting patiently on her boyfriend who is working on his hot rod while eating a Thickburger (again, isn’t that the way everyone eats a burger?)

All of these spots have a sexual tinge for sure, but none could be called pornographic until now.

The latest effort from Hardees has three variations of the same ad. In one ad, a young blonde woman in high heels and a dress stuffs her fist in her mouth. In another, she is stuffing a box of straws in. The third ad has a male doing the same straw trick. The “purpose” of the ad is to show how you have to stretch your mouth to get it to wrap around one of Hardees’ huge burgers.

Pornographic? Try googling any combination of these words: fisting, blonde, mouth, or stuffing. Just see what comes back. Obviously, the male version of the ad is an attempt to head off any criticism of what Hardees is doing.

While slightly revolting, Hardees does deliver an excellent marketing lesson. In order to be seen and create buzz, you must be different. Not so different as to alienate yourself from the market, but just enough to stand out. It will be interesting to see where Hardees goes next with their “food porn” and if consumers will bite back.

What are you doing that’s different? Are you just part of the scenery? Contact Shotgun Concepts today to take your marketing to a more visible (but never pornographic) level.

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Wasted Golden Opportunities

A marketing plan is key. 99 times out of 100, the plan is what will make you succeed.

And then there’s that 1 time out of 100.

Sometimes things will fall in your lap. Some call it dumb luck. Some call them blessings. Whatever you call it, you must always be ready to take action with the golden opportunity before it passes you by.

In today’s media soaked world, a company can sometimes luck into a national golden opportunity. Take for instance, the Ah ring. This ring for single women was catapulted into the national spotlight by the Oprah Winfrey Show. In the case of the Ah ring, the entrepreneur grabbed hold of the opportunity and is VERY successful.

Other companies fail.

The inspiration for this entry is the 2nd episode of 3rd season of The Apprentice. The task for the episode was to renovate some fleabag motels on the Jersey Shore. The winning team was determined by surveys administered through Yahoo! Local (gratuitous product placement, thank you very much)

After the show, NBC viewers were told they could delve deeper into the experience by reading the results of the surveys by searching “apprentice motel” on Yahoo!.

“But Chris, sounds like Yahoo! did a great job with using the opportunity” you say.

Yahoo! didn’t have the opportunity. They paid for it. The failures are the motels.

Here are two sad little properties who will have more hits to their websites in one day than they ever had before and they weren’t ready. Take a look at their websites (which were last updated in 2001 and 2002!!!!) and see if you think they were ready.

Imagine all the positive marketing they could have gotten from this 15 minutes of fame.

And now it’s too late.

Be ready for your golden opportunity.

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Super (toliet) Bowl

Barring any “unforeseen wardrobe malfunctions, this year’s Super Bowl promises to be a little more family friendly than last year.

Overshadowed by the incident with Janet (Miss Jackson, if you’re nasty), the ads in last year’s big game were gross out, sophomoric-humor, expensive wastes.

Intial buzz for great ads this year include Tabasco and

In general, Super Bowl advertising is only good for a few things. If you are a major company, it can help build national brand recognition and helps buzz/PR if you’ve got a buzz-worthy ad. (Just hope it’s not buzz-worthy because critics deem it the worst ad).

But in the end, there are really only two big winners of Super Bowl advertising: Ad Agencies and the TV network. The ad agencies are clamoring for awards and the network is clamoring for money. (this year Fox is charging $2.4 million for a :30 spot). That’s lots of wasted ad dollars that could be used more effectively, but at least it’s fun to watch.

At least the Patriots and the Eagles might provide a good game. And I really hope that Sir Paul McCartney doesn’t have a wardrobe walfunction during his halftime show.

The New York Times has a pretty good article about last year’s gross-out and the promises for this year’s Super Bowl advertising.

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The Worst Day of the Year

A British psychologist has proclaimed Jan 24th as the “worst day of the year”

This is not in and of itself that remarkable. There’s always a study or survey out that is really inconsequential in nature like this one.

What’s neat is the speed that this idea virus has spread and is being promoted on the 24th. Several small “pushes” have led to this idea being seen by a majority of the population today. Links on websites and blogs…..the wires picking it up….radio/tv show prep suppliers which will lead to media coverage.

All over something that’s not incredibly important…but somewhat interesting. And the amazing thing is that it happens all the time. The media-sphere picks up on these things every week…we get exposed for a day or two…and then it’s gone.

If something so minor can be spread and adopted so quickly by so many, why are you having trouble spreading the news about your business/product?

Is it the worst day of the year? Find the story here

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People really don’t have a clue

I’ve said it many times…People have no idea what they are doing.

When you market to the public you MUST remember a basic premise: If you forget for one moment that you have to lead the masses by the nose to get them to “get it”, you’ve lost them

There is a new report out that shows that 1 in 6 people can’t tell the difference between the sponsored ad links and the actual results in a search engine search. Find the full story on the study here

The digerati will say “Impossible. Who can’t tell the difference?”

When you start thinking like that, you break another prime marketing rule: Notveryone thinks like you. If you’re reading this blog, I would guess you’re fairly literate in the ways of the online world. But, you have to remember that not everyone who is online knows what’s going on. 80% of the people online only know the very basics of what it out there.

One group has figured out that people really don’t know what they’re doing…..the phishers. And they’re taking advantage of it. I’m not saying that marketers should take advantage of peoples’ ingnorance, but you should be mindful of it.

The fact that most people don’t know the difference in an ad and a result on a search engine is probably actually a good thing for marketers. It means we’re blending in the background. But remember that if they don’t know basics like the difference in an ad and a result…what else are you doing they don’t understand?

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Kentucky’s Unfocused Brand

Recently, the state of Kentucky (where Shotgun is based) became one of only two states to start trying to develop a brand image, the other being Oregon. The main trouble with Kentucky’s brand campaign is that apparently the state government feels the work is done after developing the logo. That’s the slip up of many private companies as well when they develop their brand strategy, A brand is more than just a logo. Kentucky learned this lesson in early January when the state got a black-eye from a Kentucky resident who appeared on the ABC-TV reality show, The Bachelorette. What follows is an article that I recently wrote for the Louisville Courier-Journal about this incident and branding.

For more info on the KY brand, visit

You can’t buy good PR and you can’t sell bad PR. Kentucky has learned this lesson in the first clear-cut national spotlight of a non-scripted Kentucky since the Fletcher administration rolled out the Unbridled Spirit brand campaign.
A brand image of Kentucky that had nothing to do with “Unbridled Spirit” (or maybe too much unbridled spirit) was showcased nationally on the first episode of the third installment of ABC’s “The Bachelorette”. A 27-year-old hair stylist from Campton in Wolfe County was one of the eligible bachelors and he reinforced the negative brand image that Governor Fletcher had spent all of last year trying to cover up.

If you didn’t see the show, the hairdresser, Chris C, drank too much and became a foul-mouthed redneck over the course of the show. He delivered such gems as “I have to drink cause my daddy owns a liquor store”. He became a joke to the other contestants as they mocked him. It was such a circus that in the closing credits, the show’s host, Chris Harrison, and Jen Schefft, the bachelorette, took to imitating and ridiculing him (and by association, all Kentuckians) after he had lost the first round.

Any marketer worth their salt will tell you that building a brand is MUCH more than just an attractive logo and what you tell people to think about you. Branding is not developed from the top down. It’s developed from the bottom up. The consumer, not the company, dictates what the brand image is for any product.

Companies (and states) can help brand development. Kentucky has take a great and badly needed first step by sending out a unified and consistent message with Unbridled Spirit. But state government keeps saying that this new logo is our new brand. That is incorrect. Unbridled Spirit is a logo with a tagline, not a brand.

Think about a consumer product that has been in the news lately. The drugs Vioxx and Celebrex used to own the brand image of pain medicine. Now they own the brand image of causing heart problems. A new logo and tagline for these drugs will not erase that from consumers’ minds.

The Kentucky brand is built each day when either images of Kentucky featured on a national level or more importantly when any of us step across the state line and interact with (or are telecast to) non-Kentuckians. What those non-natives think about the state and us makes up the Kentucky brand. Think for a moment about other states. You have developed an individual brand for each of them in your mind. For me, Alaska is cold, wild, and rugged. Iowa is flat and full of corn. Idaho has lots of potatoes. Arizona is a desert.

As a professional marketer, I would say the brand of Kentucky across the nation currently consists of horse racing and the negative connotations of Appalachia. Fried chicken ranks up there, too. I’ll never forget in the mid-1990s when I was in Spain. After I would introduce myself as from Kentucky, the first three words out of every Spaniard’s mouth were Kentucky Fried Chicken. And just as recently as last year when I met an Ethiopian doctor, the first place he wanted to eat was KFC.

How do we change our brand image? We don’t. As stated earlier, the brand image is up to other people. The Unbridled Spirit campaign will help a lot just as long as state government and we don’t get caught in the trap that the work is finished. The real work, though, is with individual Kentuckians. Remember what your mama said, “When you leave home, mind your manners and act like somebody.” Perhaps Chris on the Bachelorette would have been a little more sophisticated if he had been given a t-shirt to wear with the Unbridled Spirit logo on it.

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