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Published 04 March 2013 11:58, Updated 10 April 2013 09:43
Carl’s Jr chief Andy Puzder says the company is serving its target market of ‘hungry young guys’ exactly what it wants. Photo: Carl’s Jr
The chief executive of incoming US burger chain Carl’s Jr makes no apologies for the high fat content of some of his company’s food, or its raunchy commercials aimed squarely at “young, hungry guys”.
At a time when BRW’s Fast Franchise list is dominated by groups focused on health and well-being, CKE Restaurants chief executive Andy Puzder says the restaurant chain, which hopes to set up 300 outlets in Australia over the next decade, offers healthy products for those who want them. But the biggest sellers are the company’s burgers, some of which contain 20 grams of saturated fat.
“If you want healthy products we have them,” Puzder tells BRW. “Do I tell people they have to eat them? No, I’m not the food police. I’m CEO of a company, my job is to figure out what you want to eat, then feed it to you.”
The company set up in New Zealand in November and has been a knock-out success so far. Its first restaurant in Auckland set a global record in first-week turnover for the company, Puzder says, selling $US148,600 worth of food. The previous record of $US117,000 was held by a store in Houston, Texas.
Its notorious foot-long cheeseburger, containing 850 calories and 20 grams of saturated fat, was left off the New Zealand menu. But the Portobello Mushroom Burger, with only one less gram of fat and slightly more calories, is offered.
Puzder says he expects the company’s distinctive advertisements, which feature scantily clad celebrities eating hamburgers, will do well in Australia.
“As long as there are men here, I think it will go over just fine,” Puzder says. “There are always people who would prefer we didn’t do those kinds of ads but the fact of the matter is they drive business, and they appeal to a broad group of people.
“I do run them by my wife when I get the rough cut,” he adds. “She’s actually made some changes to a couple of ads.”
A clip of Paris Hilton eating a Carl’s Jr burger while washing a car achieved 541 million earned media impressions worldwide. Earned media impressions are essentially free media, such as YouTube clicks or mentions on television shows. A commercial featuring model Kate Upton reached 1.5 billion impressions.
“I record shows at home, and then you fast forward through the commercials,” Puzder says. “There’s no young hungry guy fast-forwarding through that Kate Upton commercial. They may be re-winding it and watching it twice. So there’s certainly a lot of value that comes from the way we do our advertising.”
He’s looking for franchise partners willing to roll-out at least five stores.
“We believe it will be well received here. We do see an opening for a brand that offers a higher quality product, a better level of service, however does that at a fast food price and with fast food speed of service. We think that’s a section of the QSR [Quick Service Restaurant] industry that’s not being served here.”