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Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Worst Advertising Has to Offer

Let me start this conversation by saying that I was an advertising copywriting major in college. I understand marketing strategies and campaign themes. I understand that sex has been used to sell products since the dawn of modern advertising. I'm not a prude and have no problem with sexy ads. I do, however, have a huge problem with the sexist schlock that Hardees/Carl's Jr. is passing off as television commercials. If there weren't child labor laws, I'd swear their campaign was created by adolescent boys.

I did a little bit of reading before starting this post and apparently Hardees has been bottom-feeding with their advertising for years now. I was unaware of it until recently. I'm not sure if this is because there aren't many Hardees in Minneapolis and so they didn't buy advertising there or if they've changed their media buying strategy to stations I watch in the last couple of years since I moved to Atlanta. That's not as important as the fact that they have a history of sexism.

The first commercial I saw touted a big burger by having some scantily-dressed blonde ask a stranger across the aisle on an airline, "want to join the mile-high club?" That ad was quickly followed up with a "flight attendant" in a tight, tight dress practically becoming orgasmic over a burger. I'm sure the real flight attendants who sometimes have to deal with sexual harassment from male passengers really appreciated that ad campaign. ::heavy sarcasm::

This summer, there was the barely dressed (and hinted at being naked, but strategically covered) blonde who liked to "go natural." The latest has the model in the ad saying, "nice package" to one of the guys in the ad. Way to be classy Hardees.

But oops, the CEO doesn't want class. He wants the ads to be sexist and horrible and if they're not offensive, he's sending them back to the ad agency to rework. The ass CEO said as much in Entrepreneur: The CEO of Carl's Jr. Doesn't Care If You're Offended By the Chain's Sexy Ads 

NO! I don't mind sexy ads. I hate SEXIST ads. Ads can be sexy without being sexist. Ads can be sexy and classy. Ads don't have to be offensive to sell product. Of course, it appears that Hardees/Carl's Jr. doesn't want to market to adults, but rather 15-year-old boys.

The ad agency behind the awful Hardees campaigns is 72andSunny. No Clio for you 72andSunny. AdWeek even called out one of the Hardees ads in 2013 in an article titled The 10 Most Sexist Ads of 2013.

In a blog post on Vice titled Ad Agencies Have No Idea How to Talk to Women, the author says that he's not even going to talk about Hardees/Carl's Jr ads because neither the company nor the ad agency give a damn that they've reduced women to pieces of meat. Amen, brother!

You know what? IMO, this blatant sexism pervading the advertising world in 2015 is because there is a dearth of creativity out there. Instead of actually using imagination and talent to dream up a campaign that draws people to the product, ad agencies are sinking to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Sex sells so we'll just be obnoxiously sexist and we'll sell lots of product.

Apparently they are, but I've quietly added Hardees to my list of companies I'm boycotting. They probably don't care--I almost never eat fast food--but I don't care that they don't care about my boycott. This is my stand, however small it might be.