Annals of advertising: patriotism, sex, and overwhelming mouthfuls of food

It burst recently (with actual fireworks) onto the American fast-food scene: the Most American Thickburger from Carl’s Jr. / Hardees:

This clip doesn’t include the final tag, “Because America, that’s why” (with the recently popular because NP construction). But the entertaining businessday (NZ) story about the ad does.

“Carl’s Jr Thickburger ad aims to be Most American Ever” by Michael Koziol on 6/2/15:

Why did we put a split hot dog and kettle cooked potato chips on a Thickburger? Because America, that’s why. Only at Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s. #MostAmerican

It begins, of course, with a succulent meat patty covered in melting cheese. The towering contents of this monstrosity soon come into full, mouth-watering view: hot dogs, mustard, ketchup, tomato, lettuce and – perplexingly – potato chips.

The “Most American Thickburger”, created by burger maker and obesity contributor Carl’s Jr, is being marketed as the “most American” burger ever, and its accompanying television advertisement pulls no patriotic punches.

As the camera slowly pulls back, the owner of this calorie-laden snack is revealed – and in textbook marketing tradition, it’s a blonde Sports Illustrated model. Samantha Hoopes would likely be fired for actually ingesting a Thickburger, but in the holy name of advertising she dons an American flag bikini and chows down.

Hoopes is sitting in a hot tub (naturally), but not just any hot tub. This one is in the back of an all-American, three-door pick-up truck (we would call it a ute [in AU and NZ]) painted with – you guessed it – stars and stripes forever.

But wait; there’s more. The pick-up truck is on an aircraft carrier floating down New York’s Hudson River, with the glittering Manhattan skyline as a backdrop. As the Statue of Liberty appears in the foreground, fighter jets take off (leaving jet streams in the colours of the flag) and fireworks erupt over Wall Street.

Cut back to Hoopes, who takes a seductive bite out of the Thickburger before staring down the camera’s barrel and flashing the slightest hint of a satisfied smile.

For those playing at home, the burger contains 1080 calories (more than double the McDonald’s Big Mac) and has been kicking around the drawing board for five years.

“People love these big, juicy, indulgent burgers,” Andy Puzder, the chief executive of Carl’s Jr parent company CKE Restaurants, told Bloomberg previously. “We know who we are and we know how to appeal to our customers.”

God bless America, capitalism and sexism.

In a still shot, Samantha Hoopes, wrapped (just barely) in the flag and perkily displaying the monster burger:


Hoopes on Wikipedia:

Samantha Hoopes (born 10 February 1991) is an American model, best known for appearing in the Sports Illustrated’s 50th Anniversary Swimsuit issue in 2014.

And in general for displaying her minimally clothed body as a sexual object. Yes, much as male models often do for a gay male audience — though here the relations between the sexes are likely to be involved in a troublesome way.

Another still shot, with Hoopes gamely taking a bite of that burger, but coming nowhere near actually eating it. Surely meant to suggest fellatio: the burger as phallus. (Carl’s Jr. ads are frequently sexy and borderline tasteless. Apparently this sells burgers, even though some people complain that the ads are offensive.)


A note on Carl’s Jr. / Hardee’s, from Wikipedia:

Carl’s Jr. is an American-based fast-food restaurant chain operating in the Western and Southwestern states.

Carl Karcher founded the predecessor of Carl’s Jr. in 1941 [in Anaheim CA]; he jump-started his operations with the opening of his first restaurant, a sit-down full-service location called Carl’s Drive-In Barbeque. As this grew wildly successful, he decided to open up a chain of smaller restaurants called Carl’s, with more limited menus. In 1954, the chain was renamed Carl’s Jr. and the fast-food chain took off. In combination with its sibling restaurant-chain Hardee’s, Carl’s Jr. is in the top ten fast-food chains in the United States

… In 1997, CKE Restaurants [the parent company of Carl’s Jr.] acquired Hardee’s, a restaurant chain with 2,500 locations in the Midwest, South and East Coast regions. Hardee’s restaurants are gradually being converted to be more like Carl’s Jr. with some of the same menu items and even adopting the same star logo. In turn, Carl’s Jr. restaurants started to sell Hardee’s breakfast items.


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