Wednesday, November 11, 2009

7238: A Carl’s Jr. Offer You Can’t Refuse.

Carl’s Jr. set aside its typically sexist advertising for stereotypical depictions offensive to Italian Americans. Note the response from the corporate director of public relations—it’s pretty clear that Carl’s Jr. does not see a problem with perpetuating ethnic stereotypes in an effort to amuse “young, hungry guys.” The campaign was touting the chain’s Chicken Parmesan Sandwich; hence, the need to push mafia imagery. Good thing they weren’t promoting fried chicken or Asian chicken flavors.

Fuggedaboudit: Carl’s Jr. Stops Mob Ad Campaign

by Jennifer Lawinski

Fast-food chain Carl’s Jr. has stopped the ad campaign for its Chicken Parmesan Sandwich after Italian-American groups complained about the mafia-themed commercials.

The California Italian-American Task Force and the National Italian-American Federation praised Carl’s Jr.’s parent company CKE for its decision not to buy more TV slots for the ads, which feature mobster and garbage man characters that critics said showed negative Italian-American stereotypes, Nation’s Restaurant News reports.

In the ad, a man sits in his car eating the Carl’s Jr. Chicken Parmesan Sandwich as marinara sauce drips out of his mouth and down his shirt. When two mafia goons approach the car, the man plays dead. Fooled by the sauce dotting his shirt like blood, they leave him alive assuming someone else killed him before they arrived.

“NIAF was pleased to see the positive steps taken by Carl’s Jr. Restaurant to remove negative, inaccurate and unfair characterizations in their recent commercial advertisements,” Jeff Capaccio, the group’s regional vice president for the Far West, told the paper. “These advertisements only fuel further incorrect assumptions about an entire ethnic group.”

Controversy is nothing new for Carl’s Jr. Earlier this year, the company launched a racy ad featuring Padma Lakshmi inhaling a Western Bacon Thickburger.

Beth Mansfield, director of public relations for CKE told Slashfood that the company, which is also the parent company of Hardee’s, “adopts a creative approach” to its advertising. “It is intended to communicate the core message of our premium-quality food to our target audience of ‘young, hungry guys.’ We do not aim to exclude or offend any other groups with our efforts, but merely to appeal to and amuse a very specific audience. We understand that not everyone may view our advertising the same way, so we respect all views and welcome comments and feedback.”

The company decided not to extend the media run for the Parmesan Chicken Sandwich, but the campaign formally ended on Nov. 8, although the commercials may still make appearances “infrequently in limited markets,” Mansfield said.

But it’s still offering $1 off coupons on its Web site.

After the Chicken Parmesan campaign, Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s will be taking another stab at McDonalds, Mansfield told Slashfood.

Its next ad campaign for Carl’s Jr.’s Big Carl burger and Hardee’s Big Hardee burger will target the McDonald’s Big Mac in “round three of the Premium Burger Wars,” which Mansfield said the company calls “McSmack.”

“The direct comparison worked so well and we got such a great response from them, that’s what we’re looking at doing again,” she told Slashfood. “We just keep kicking the shins of that 800 pound gorilla.”

1 comment:

RFB said...

As an Italian American, I long ago stopped caring how Italian Americans are portrayed - which is usually like this. Somewhere along the line it became wrong to poke fun at Asian stereotypes, even Irish ones. Italians, it seems, are still fair game.

It's not like we have a stellar history in this country, pretty much known for organized crime and pasta-pushing mothers, so maybe it continues because we just don't care.