Carl’s Jr and Special Group explore radio loophole, embrace theatre of the mind

There was a bit of kerfuffle recently when Carl’s Jr. had its American television commercial promoting its new Memphis BBQ Burger banned from television in New Zealand by the Commercial Approvals Bureau for using sexual appeal in an exploitative and degrading manner to sell an unrelated product. It responded by running a digital campaign driving people to view the ad on its YouTube channel. And it’s continued to embrace the controversy, with Special Group letting imaginations run wild by repurposing the TV commercial for radio.


Special Group’s Tony Bradbourne said the team had a lot of fun writing it and the spot shows what you can do with radio. 

“It can actually be a really great creative tool,” he says. 

He says it has been working on projects for Carl’s Jr. since it launched in 2011 and it’s also working with the other franchise owner Restaurant Brands. 

Restaurant Brands’ general manager of marketing Geraldine Oldham says the brand is known internationally for its edgy advertising and it will be using the same marketing DNA in New Zealand. 

“It’s great we could use online platforms to get this ad into the market and with the ad receiving almost 180,000 views on YouTube it shows it’s what our target audience of Young Hungry Guys want to see.” 

Speaking to the Herald when launching its flagship Queen St store recently, CKE Restaurants chief executive Andy Pudzer said: “We do ads that are cutting edge or provocative because we’re not as big as McDonald’s and we’re not as big as Burger King so the ad budgets are smaller. [Consumers] have to remember our ads – our ads have to cut through the clutter.”

He said having the ad banned here was a blessing and “every time there’s controversy around one of our ads sales go up”. 

Other ads for the brand have featured scantily clad females like Paris Hilton, Kate Upton and Kim Kardashian.




Carl’s Jr’s. PR Sally Paterson also calls these ads “cutting edge” and says “they cast guys who can actually eat a big juicy burger who would never be in the competition’s ads and they cast women who make you stop and rewind your DVR five times to watch them enjoy our product”. 

Babes eating burgers and writhing in ecstasy is probably about as far away as you can get from ‘cutting edge’. In fact, cutting edge in this sector would probably be the exact opposite, perhaps a few fatties chowing down on burgers in very tight plastic booths. 

Restaurant Brands chief executive Russel Creedy told the Herald less provocative ads for the chain would appear on New Zealand television later this year.

Things seem to have gotten off to a good start for the burger chain, with a store that opened in Henderson’s Lincoln Rd in November turning over almost $180,000 in its first week of operation, a world record for the brand that operates in more than 20 countries.


Restaurant Brands

Kirsten Smith – Carl’s Jr. Marketing Manager

Geraldine Oldham – Restaurant Brands, General Manager of Marketing

Special Group

Tony Bradbourne, Creative Director

Rob Jack, Creative Director

Kim Fraser, Creative

Oriel Davis-Lyons, Creative

Nicola Winslade, Account Manager

Nigel Sutton, Producer

Audio Post Production by Franklin Rd

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