Essay: The Carl’s Jr. Whoreburger

Lately I’ve been seeing a TV commercial for Carl’s Jr., a popular American fast food chain. In it, a Britney Spears look-a-like who can only be described as “busty” is cavorting in a convertible at drive-in movie. She’s holding a massive burger seductively, biting into it, gazing lovingly at it as burger juice and other schmutz drip onto her chest and dress, which, of course, is a low, low cut mini skirt. Near the end she’s got her legs parted wide open, a Carl’s Jr. bag placed strategically in the middle.

Ostensibly, the ad is for their Classic Jalapeno Southwest Paddy Melt, but they might as well just call it the new Carl’s Jr. “Whoreburger.”

Now, I may be a red-blooded American male, but a more disgusting sight I have not seen in a very long time. This shameless objectification of women as nothing more than sex objects is absolutely repulsive, downright Neanderthal. I have to question the ethics of a company who feel that men’s view of women is still stuck in the Dark Ages. And you don’t have to be Freud to read into the deeper sexual ramifications of a woman eagerly biting into a big hunka meat.

Apparently there has been a slight backlash against this ad, mostly from women’s groups, but from what I read, the commercial spot is a smashing success for them, which means we can count on even more of this type of sickening advertising from them, and I’m sure they have many others just like it on the drawing boards.

I’d like to see the marketing strategy that went into concepting this ignorant commercial. I can see some male ad exec going, “THIS is what men want! Our demographic studies tell us that men want to see women who look like whores, or who might actually be whores! THAT’s what sells burgers.”

And who exactly are these demographic targets, because it certainly isn’t women. Horny 14-to-18 year old boys? Sex starved men who will see this and say, “Let’s head on down to the burger shack where we can party with the hot babes of Carl’s Jr.!” And who is this “actress” who would willingly project such a demeaning portrayal of women? Talk about whoring yourself out!

It always puzzles me as to why corporations stoop to such low-browed tactics, but as someone who works in advertising and marketing, I understand that sex supposedly sells. But in this case, what exactly is it selling, other than the worst crap that you can put in your body?

Beyond this negative portrayal of women, I have to wonder if these fast food execs realize that are greatly contributing to the world’s morbid obesity problem, and as such, are contributing to many deaths through stroke or heart attack. Don’t even get me started on the fact that the burger wrappings, bags, straws, cups and plastic containers will probably wind up in a landfill, where they will remain for the next thousand years.

Perhaps I’m naive in thinking that big companies care about anything other than the financial bottom line. That’s a much broader issue that can be brought up in another discussion. For now, if you eat fast food (and if you do …why?), do the women in your life a big favor and go somewhere, anywhere, other than Carl’s Jr.

About Stephen Kelly Creative

Hi, I'm Stephen Kelly, a writer, editor, photographer and graphic designer living in beautiful San Francisco, CA, USA. Amongst the things I love are writing, photography, movies, music, fitness, travel, Batman, all things Australian, food and fun, all of which I hope to reflect in this here blog. Welcome aboard ... now let's get busy!
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17 Responses to Essay: The Carl’s Jr. Whoreburger

  1. Joe says:

    That’s definitely distasteful advertising. They could really turn off a lot of fans doing that.

  2. As we don’t have that chain here I’m not familiar with the ad. Sad to say I am familiar with the would be tactics companies use to advertise their products though. Thank you for sharing your viewpoint, it’s both thoughtful, refreshing and informed. Great Post.

  3. You’re welcome. I just got so sick of seeing it that I just had to write about it. And they play it all the time! During a hour of TV last night, I saw it 4 times. The solution? Turn off the TV and read a book!!
    Where do you live that you’re spared such ignorance?

  4. I saw a commercial the other night from Hardee’s similar to Carl’s jr. I wonder if they are the same business since we don’t have Carl’s here. I agree – it’s disgusting. Do they really have to go there to sell burgers? Sad!
    Yes, I think they are the same. Just searched and saw the bright yellow star – Hardee’s has the same icon.

    • HI … and thanks for reading. Yes, Hardees is owned by whoever owns Carl’s Jr., and I’ve heard their food selections (I hesitate to call them menus) are the same, as is, apparently, their misogynist view of women.

  5. drewpan says:

    If I’m not wrong, the “actress” in question is the recent cover girl for SI’s Swimsuit issue, Kate Upton. I know this because this video was shared on Facebook by one of my guy friends – obviously the correct demographic for such an ad.

    I don’t think Carl’s Jr is going to be too upset by the female backlash because I’m fairly certain that they’re not the target market in the first place.

    However, the writhing and moaning is probably not that inaccurate, because I’d imagine that to be the exact same reaction when a large guy bites into that embodiment of heart disease. But just like it is in videogames, a lot of overweight single guys would much rather see a sexy female avatar act out what they’re feeling, instead of a more visually accurate representation of themselves.

    • Hi Drew. Yes, upon further research I discovered that that is indeed supermodel Kate Upton, and yes, I know that Carl’s Jr. couldn’t give a shit about female backlash, because this ad pretty much fits the mold of all their ads. And while I also know that the fat, videogame lovin’ fanboy set is the target audience, and that Carl’s Jr. sells fantasy as much as they sell burgers, I just like to think that there might be a more intelligent, less insulting way of hawking your crap. Maybe it’s me … I’ve never been one to wallow in the lowest common denominator, even though that’s where it seems most of American society now dwells.

      • drewpan says:

        On the subject of lowest common denominator, it has always amazed me that Americans can simultaneously create amazing shows like Studio 60, AND reject it in favor of crap like “The Search for the Next Pussycat Doll”.

        There are ways to do be intelligent, but it doesn’t seem to be where the money comes from.

  6. Exactly Drew. Americans fall all over themselves watching insipid crap like “Jersey Shore” and “Real Housewives of Atlantic City,” but intelligent, thoughtful, witty shows like “30 Rock” and “Fringe” are ratings-challenged and constantly on the verge of cancellation.

  7. It would be nice to have just one company look beyond their profit margin.

  8. As a woman and human being, I am glad to have you express your disgust so publicly. Unfortunately, as you point out, it is unlikely to concern the company in question. In Australia the The Australian Medical Association recently called for the Government to enforce advertising regulations regarding the sexualisation of children in advertising. The matter was later brought up in parliament.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I always thougt of Carl’s Junior as some sort of family restaraunt, not a Hooters. I have never been to Carl’s Junior and I agree with you regarding this commercial. If they were selling a man’s fragrance or body wash I could see using the whore factor somewhat. I like the Victoria’s Secret commercials for lingerie but I would be pretty po’d if they used the angels in a hot dog commercial and doing some sort of nasty with the dogs. I broke my leg and watch a lot of TV and I am shocked at the stupid ads out there. I often believe that a lot of the advertising companies hire newbies. I wonder if they even test these ads on a general target audience and not just one group.

    • I wonder if they do any group studies at all … their marketing scheme has been the same for years.
      I really agree with one things you said: Victoria’s Secret is doing the same thing (using women as sex objects to sell a product), albeit in much classier way. But with their product, showing a women’s body is part of the sell. They handle it nicely. Carl’s Junior dives straight into the lowest common denominator.
      Thanks for dropping by, by the way!

  10. Well, it just goes to show that my imagination about the lack of imagination that commercials can show is lacking! I hadn’t realized until I saw so many comments above that the problem was so bad. I have heard of Hardee’s, but they aren’t on tv much where I am, and I’ve never heard of Carl Jr.’s, so I guess I’m better off living in relative ignorance. But it really impresses me that you are so virulent in your expressions of disdain–it makes my day whenever I can say that I’ve truly met another male feminist among men! Kudos, Stephen!

    • Hi Victoria … and thanks. I can not stand how these corporations objectify women as sex objects designed to sell a product!!! let’s show some class and intelligence, people!!! those two traits seem to be lost commodities these days … sigh.

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