A new Hardee's TV commercial featuring "Top Chef" host Padma Lakshmi provocatively devouring a burger while flashing ample cleavage is highly reminiscent of the famous/infamous Carl's Jr. commercial featuring Paris Hilton soaping a car in clingy, barely-there attire.
No mystery here. The Hardee's commercial was created by Carl's Jr.'s longtime ad agency, Mendelsohn|Zien, and directed by Chris Applebaum, who also directed the Hilton commercial.
Actually, the new limited-time-offer Hardee's burger, called the Western Bacon Thickburger, is also something of a lift from Carl's -- it's a Hardee's version of Carl's signature Western Bacon Cheeseburger.
Lakshmi is doing double duty for CKE: She will also be featured in a similar new commercial for Carl's Jr.'s own Western Bacon Six Dollar Burger. The Hardee's ad will begin airing Monday in Midwest and Southeast markets, while the Carl's Jr. ad will run for a limited time in that chain's West Coast markets starting Tuesday, according to QSRmagazine.com.
But the ads are already firing up the two chains' "Young, Hungry Guy" target audiences, by having been posted on their respective Web sites and YouTube channels.
How did Lakshmi -- a former vegetarian who is usually seen sampling considerably more sophisticated fare on her Bravo show -- become a fast-food burger endorser? According to the CKE folks, the match was inspired by the Top Chef's admission, in her last cookbook, that she began "wolfing down" Carl's Western Bacon Cheeseburgers in her school days.
Indeed, given Lakshmi's written description of the burger's barbeque sauce being "greedily licked off as it dripped down my teenage fingers," the transference to commercial video would seem almost preordained for the CKE.
"In many ways, she was the perfect choice ... because she's beautiful, she's a culinary expert, she's beautiful, she's very smart, and she's beautiful," Brad Haley, the chains' EVP, marketing, told QSR.