Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
19 November 2018
The tragedy of the Hardees brand
What has happened to the Hardees brand? A few weeks ago, I wrote that the new ad from Carls Jr (Hardees western US partner) was simply an amusement for those at Carls Jr headquarters.
Little did I know it marks a shift in strategy for the entire company, including the Hardees brand.
Have you seen the newest campaign? It features actor David Koechner, who you might remember from Anchorman and other comedies. It’s simply a not-very-amusing promotion of product benefits. In this case, taste.
“‘Cause it tastes better’ is so unemotional and so forgettable I’m stunned the Hardees brand has taken such a 180. It’d be like Apple saying, ‘think like everyone else’ instead of ‘think different.'”
Oh my God. Where do I begin? Its new theme of “Cause it tastes better” is so bland and wrong it boggles the mind. First of all, taste is not a switching trigger. Putting brand aside for the moment, true switching triggers fulfill a want or need the target audience doesn’t have.
If the aim of the Hardees brand is to prompt switching, that means target audiences have to believe what they’re eating now tastes like shit. “Oh hey. I’ve been eating this dried raccoon urine for years. I hate it. I never knew I could get something that tastes better.”
The new Hardees brand campaign is amazingly dumb
The tragedy of this Hardees brand switch is that the fast food chain once held the perfect position. Its “eat it like you mean it” spots were a no-holds-barred attack on the rest of the fast food industry attempting to be healthier. While healthier food is certainly a real trend, Hardees presented a true – and emotional – choice against the competition.
More importantly, it gave meaning to the Hardees brand. It defined its audience as those who are unapologetic about enjoying a big burger.
In fact, our own studies with fast food clients suggest healthier options may get some people to those stores. But, when they actually get there, they buy the greasy stuff. It’s what they want. But are just a little embarrassed by it. The “eat it like you mean it” messaging tapped into that emotion.
“Cause it tastes better” is so unemotional and so forgettable I’m stunned the Hardees brand has taken such a 180. It’d be like Apple saying, “think like everyone else” instead of “think different.”
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