CKE Goes Candid Camera To Show Quality Of Its Burgers

candid shots eating hardeesIn a scene reminiscent of the old Palmolive commercial with Madge the manicurist ("You're soaking in it!"), CKE Restaurants fooled consumers into thinking that the expensive burger they just ate was worth $14 or $20 when it actually came from the company's Carl's Jr. and Hardee's chains. 

A new ad campaign called "Fake Restaurant" captures on hidden camera the experiences of customers who believed they were eating expensive burgers at a fancy restaurant. The company enlisted accomplices to lure the unsuspecting.

The series of 30-second spots showing real people eating real burgers at a fake restaurant started airing Tuesday in Hardee's markets, and will begin airing in Carl's Jr. markets on June 22. The commercials carry on a decade-long strategy at both brands to utilize innovative advertising intended to appeal to young, hungry guys, says CKE.



The ads were created by Los Angeles-based advertising agency, Mendelsohn|Zien, which also created the Paris Hilton commercial, "That's Hot," from 2005.

In one spot, a man who appears to be in his low 30s unwittingly digs into Hardee's new Prime Rib Thickburger, asks the server (somewhat incongruently) to describe the meat, then is surprised to be told that he has just downed a Hardee's product. That product, making its debut in the spot, sells for $4.49. Carl's will launch its own version, the Prime Rib Six Dollar Burger, in June.

The set was constructed in Malibu, Calif. From valet parking to white linen tablecloths, every aspect of the faux, fine-dining establishment, with the made-up name of Grade A Restaurant, was created for the experiment.

Guests were brought to the Fake Restaurant set by a friend who was in on the ruse, to experience a fine meal of specialty hamburgers from a top-notch chef. The charbroiled, 100% Black Angus beef burgers listed on the menu, which were the same burgers served at Carl's Jr. and Hardee's, ranged in price from $14 to $20, with some menus listing no price at all.

The commercials can be viewed at

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