Monday, April 3, 2017

Where's the Heat?

By now, most of us, most of us being in the ad biz, know that things are changing at Carl's Jr.

Last week, their ad agency 72 & Sunny let us know there's a new sheriff in town. Carl's is ditching the old T&A formula for the smarter, more dimensional, pissed off Founder.

Let's be clear here. I am in no way disparaging the marketing shift. In fact, I applaud it.

And readers of RoundSeventeen know I rarely have a nice word to say about other people's work. Not because I'm jealous that I didn't get to produce anything. But because most other work genuinely sucks. In fact, 99.97% of everything I see on TV sucks.

This new Carl's Jr. campaign does not suck. In fact, it does not suck in so many great ways.

First, I found myself giggling with glee over the searing depiction of youngsters doing business. The hot tub, the VR devices and the playtime office environ was pitch perfect.

I also savored the bull in a china shop arrival of the Dad, who without the aid of a committee or any advisors, simply sprung into action. Cutting through all the horseshit and instantaneously zeroed in on the company's new mission and focus... the burgers.


I almost love everything about this long form campaign launch, including the writing, the acting, the playful art direction, even the costuming. All dead on.

Here's my minor bone to pick.

If I, as the father, had poured all my blood, sweat and tears into a business. And that business grew. And kept on growing. Only to have the entire prosperous empire put at risk because I had left my sprawling business to my lazy, dim headed slacker son, I'd be a bit angry.

Noticably angry.

And that's where my problem is, the dynamic between the father Carl's Hardee Sr. and Carl's Hardee Jr. They need turn the heat up on that sucker.

I know that.
You know that.
Even the good folks at 72 & Sunny know that.

I'm guessing there are some less-than-senior marketing execs at Carl's Jr., who don't know that. Because all clients, even ones as adventurous as this one, abhor sentiments like anger, confrontation or even negativity.

And so, in edit bays somewhere in Santa Monica, I am sure this was heard...

"Oh, the Dad seems a little angry. Do we have any takes where he's not so angry?"

And at that point the creative team stifled every desire to jump up on the table and scream, "He's angry because the kid just fucked up his company. Wouldn't you be angry?"

"I just think we should find a softer take."

And of course, the agency being consummate pros, does have softer takes.

You know what else they have? They have a full range of alternative takes. Better, funnier, angrier takes.

Here's a little industry secret. When we go to shoot a commercial and hire real actors and put them in real scenarios, we often film variations. What you see on screen or as you are fast forwarding on your DVR, is just one selected take. There are hundreds of others.

And among those, I guarantee there are some zingers and winners and delicious smackdowns of that bratty skinny kid that sadly, we will never see. If this sounds familiar, you have my sympathy.

But over and above that, the teams at 72& Sunny have my admiration. Well done.


Honest Steve said...

I'm a bit disappointed to read that you find this one to be good. Wasn't it the folks at 72 and Sunday that came up with the T&A formula? Now they swoop in as the heroes with the cure for the disease they themselves invented. Yes it's well produced, funny etc etc, but it's a huge crock of shit in my humble opinion.

Kellie Avakian said...

Alternate takes...hmmm. I remember a Jaguar spot you did entirely out of a single alternate take that that epitomize the Jaguar brand so well, it freaked the client's out. But it was the best spot I'd seen for that brand and here, more than a decade later, still remember it.

Endgame? said...

My question, where do they go from here? Is it all food porn from now on, sans actual porn. Will the founder continue to unhinge his son's efforts in ads? Seems like a one-off transition with nothing but boring ahead.

Unknown said...

72 and Sunny may have turned the T&A up to eleven, but Mendelsohn/Zien deserve credit/blame for introducing sex appeal into the burger industry when the first ketchup drip hit the t-shirt. Back then, the food was still the hero; the sex appeal was the vehicle to deliver it to horny young males.