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Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s Hit Pop-Culture Jackpot with Kate Upton Ad Campaign for Southwest Patty Melt

Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s are known for their use of pop-culture icons in their advertising, so casting Kate Upton as their latest spokeswoman in the campaign for the Southwest Patty Melt was seen as a continuation of that strategy. However, Upton was signed and the ads filmed before the brands, or Kate herself, knew that she would be chosen as the 2012 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover model. That announcement, made less than two weeks after the commercials were shot, exponentially propelled interest in all things related to Kate, including her Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s ads. Media coverage and online views of the commercials and other related content have generated over a half a billion impressions worldwide, and that figure continues to grow.

The commercial, titled Drive-In, is a spicy twist on a classic – a classic drive-in setting, featuring a classic All-American girl eating a classic Patty Melt, but all are heated up with the Southwestern flavors of jalapeños, pepper-Jack cheese and Santa Fe sauce. Filmed near downtown LA on the night of January 31 and early morning of February 1, nearly two weeks before the announcement of Kate’s selection as the 2012 cover girl on “Late Night with David Letterman.”

“For two moderate-sized, regional fast-food chains, Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s have established a pretty amazing track record over the years of working with celebrities who are just hitting their pop culture zeniths when they appear in our advertising, and some would even go so far as to say that our ads helped propel them there,” said Brad Haley, chief marketing officer for Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s. “But, our timing with Kate Upton, unquestionably, tops them all. From Paris Hilton to Kim Kardashian, our ads often achieve iconic status thanks to the huge public interest in our stars as well as the way we portray them on film. With Kate, we knew she was a hot young model and was, after all, Rookie of the Year in last year’s swimsuit issue, but we didn’t know that she would be on the cover this year when we filmed her. Her meteoric rise, once the cover of SI was announced, has made everything she touches something that our target of ‘young, hungry guys’ has to get their hands on, including the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s Southwest Patty Melt she so clearly enjoys in the commercial.”

Previous campaigns featuring Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian and Padma Lakshmi, each generated a great deal of pop-culture buzz, but they have now been eclipsed by the success of Kate Upton’s campaign. Media coverage of Kate’s participation in the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s ad for the Southwest Patty Melt currently stands at 627 million impressions. The online-only :60 director’s cut of the ad has been viewed more than 3.6 million times. The :30 Drive-In spot and two behind-the-scenes videos bring the total views to nearly 4.5 million. Fans in 220 different countries around the globe have watched the various videos.

“We just want to thank Kate for all that she has achieved with us and we wish her well in her career, which we expect to be a long and successful one given her talent, looks and charm,” added Haley. “Kudos also to our advertising agency, 72andSunny, for creating such a memorable ad with Kate. In fact, we are now in the enviable position of being approached by celebrities who want to appear in our ads because of the pop-culture buzz they generate. I can’t think of any other fast-food brand that would be viewed that way by rising stars.”

Media coverage about Kate’s commercial and the Southwest Patty Melt has ranged from FOX News and People magazine to USA Today and, of course, In a post on, research conducted by BrandIndex shows that Kate Upton has made quite an impression on 18-to-34-year-old males. According to BrandIndex, Hardee’s saw a 24-point jump in impression score for the brand among that group. BrandIndex is a national research firm that tracks consumer perception of brands.

“This has been such a fun and exciting time for me,” said supermodel Kate Upton, who is represented by IMG Models. “I’m so excited that my Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s commercial has been received so well. I had a blast shooting it and I’m thrilled to see it has more than four million views now.”

The :60 version of the ad took the top spot on the Ad Age Viral Video Chart March 8, and was at No. 10 the following week.

Other stats to consider:

  • More than 120,000 new Facebook fans for Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s since the ad launched
  • 104 percent increase in site visits over the previous week to brand site after the :60 Director’s cut video was posted
  • 83 percent increase in visits over the previous week to brand site after the :60 Director’s cut video was posted
  • More than 5,000 tweets have mentioned the product, Kate @KateUpton, the ad and the brands @CarlsJr and @Hardees
  • Those 5,000 tweets reached more than 12.4 million Twitter followers and had a 94 percent approval rating

And, it wouldn’t be a successful ad campaign if there weren’t parodies of the spot. Hulk Hogan and a half-dozen lesser-known characters have posted YouTube parodies. Even Jay Leno got into the act, featuring Kate in the Drive-In ad in a funny send-up on the Tonight Show.

CKE Restaurants, Inc. is a privately held company headquartered in Carpinteria, Calif. As of the end of the third quarter of fiscal 2012, the Company, through its subsidiaries, had a total of 3,219 franchised, licensed or company-operated restaurants in 42 states and in 23 countries, including 1,292 Carl’s Jr. restaurants and 1,917 Hardee’s restaurants. For more information about CKE Restaurants, please visit or its brand sites at and

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New Southwest Patty Melt from Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s Turns up the Heat on an All-American Classic

Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’sjust made a spicy new addition to the brands’ burger menus with the reinvention of an all-American favorite – the Southwest Patty Melt. A spicy twist on a classic burger, the new Southwest Patty Melt features a charbroiled beef patty, with sliced jalapeños, grilled onions, pepper-Jack cheese, and spicy Santa Fe sauce, all on grilled sourdough bread. The Southwest Patty Melt is available now at all Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. locations.

“The Southwest Patty Melt is our modern update of a classic American burger from the ’50s and ’60s,” said Brad Haley, chief marketing officer for Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s. “We took the best aspects of an original patty melt, grilled onions and melting cheese on grilled bread, and spiced them up with jalapeños, pepper-Jack cheese and our own Santa Fe sauce, which has a pretty good kick of its own. And, if you order our premium version, it comes with almost a half pound of charbroiled, 100% Black Angus beef.”

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Cover Girl Kate Upton Stars in New Carl's Jr. and Hardee's Southwest Patty Melt Commercial

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Cover Girl Kate Upton Stars in New Carl's Jr. and Hardee's Southwest Patty Melt Commercial

Supermodel Kate Upton brings on the heat, herself, in the sizzling new Southwest Patty Melt commercial airing this weekend. The retro-inspired ad features Kate in a classic 1950s setting, a drive-in movie theater, watching a film in a 1950s-era car and vintage-inspired clothing. Created by Los Angeles- and Amsterdam-based 72andSunny, CKE Restaurants’ new creative agency, the commercial features a contemporized version of the 1959 hit song “Some Like It Hot.” The spot was directed by Chris Applebaum, who is known for working with some of the most successful female artists in music videos and actresses in commercials.

“Kate Upton truly is one of the most beautiful women in the world, yet she has a great, all-American look, so she was a natural fit for our advertising campaign about a spiced-up version of a classic American burger,” Haley added. “As you’ll see, both Kate and the Southwest Patty Melt deliver the heat in the ads.”

Kate follows in the footsteps of other pop-culture icons in Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s advertising, including Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton and Padma Lakshmi, all of whom were also directed by Applebaum. Kate is the 2012 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover girl and also appeared in the 2011 edition, where she earned Rookie of the Year honors. She was recently ranked #2 on the list of World’s Most Desirable Women and was Esquire’s 2011 Woman of the Summer and GQ’s 2011 Body of the Year.

“Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s are brands that need to make waves in culture,” said Glenn Cole, founding partner and CCO at 72andSunny. “While our competitors try to out-kid-meal each other, we’re going to keep making noise and delivering young hungry guys what they want.”

Exclusive behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with Kate on the set of the Southwest Patty Melt commercial shoot can be viewed on the brands’ YouTube channels ( and The :30 ad will be posted to YouTube later this week, will air during the Oscar telecast in many markets this Sunday, and begin running nationally Feb. 27. An additional :60 Director’s Cut of the commercial will be posted on the brands’ YouTube channels as well. A ringtone of the updated “Some Like It Hot” song from the ads will be made available on iTunes.

Stay tuned to Facebook ( and and Twitter ( and for the latest on all things spicy.

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Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Cover Girl Kate Upton Stars in New Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s Southwest Patty Melt Commercial

CKE Restaurants today released behind-the-scenes footage from its spicy new Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s commercial shoot starring Kate Upton, the 2012 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover girl.

The commercial for the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s Southwest Patty Melt was filmed the night of Jan. 31 through the morning of Feb. 1, 2012 on a hilltop overlooking downtown Los Angeles. The :30 commercial starring Upton will begin airing in late February, in support of the Southwest Patty Melt’s arrival at Hardee’s on Feb. 20 and at Carl’s Jr. on Feb. 22.


  • Kate Upton discusses her star turn as the next Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s leading lady and her love of all things spicy
  • Kate Upton behind-the-scenes footage on the set of the commercial shoot
  • Glenn Cole, chief creative officer of advertising agency 72andSunny, discusses the ad concept and what makes Kate the spiciest Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s leading lady yet
  • Southwest Patty Melt footage

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Cover Girl Kate Upton Stars in New Carl's Jr. and Hardee's Southwest Patty Melt Commercial

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