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Carl's Jr. and Hardee's Start Round Two of Burger Battle with McDonald's

Sep 14, 2009

Hardee’s Launches Big Hardee One Month After Big Carl Intro at Carl’s Jr.


Both Chains Run “Non-response” Ads in Response to McDonald’s Angus Burgers


CARPINTERIA, Calif. – September 14, 2009 – Ding, ding. Let’s get ready for round two of the premium burger wars. In their ongoing effort to help customers avoid falling for the McHype of a big competitor, Carl’s Jr.® and Hardee’s® announced two new initiatives starting today: The Big Hardee™ at Hardee’s and a new ad campaign, entitled “Nothing,” both chains are airing in response to McDonald’s® Angus Third Pounders introduction.


As ad exec/blogger, Bill Mount, commented in his “Sermon From The Mount” blog after Carl’s Jr. began advertising The Big Carl™ last month, “I’m lovin’ it.  Carl’s Jr. always brings automatic weapons to a knife fight.”


The fracas began in August with McDonald’s Corporation’s (NYSE: MCD) launch of the Angus Third Pounders, an attempt to copy the sit-down restaurant style burgers pioneered by Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s years ago.  Carl’s Jr. was the first to retaliate by launching The Big Carl as a counterpunch aimed at the iconic Big Mac®. The Big Carl boasts twice as much meat and cheese as a Big Mac but sells for just $2.49 or less, while the Big Mac costs more than $3 on average.


“We knew people would be drawn to the Big Carl,” said Andrew F. Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE: CKR), parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardees. “It’s a bigger, better burger at a significantly lower price. But what we didn’t expect was the very positive reaction we’ve received for the directly comparative advertising campaign we developed to promote it.  Many people have voiced their support for us having the guts to get into the ring with an 800-pound gorilla.”


In order to expand the West-coast consumers’ excitement nationwide, Hardee’s today began offering the Big Hardee. With more meat, more cheese and a lower price than the Big Mac, the Big Hardee consists of three beef patties, two slices of American cheese, a tangy sauce and shredded lettuce on a seeded bun. Available in participating restaurants, the Big Hardee costs just $2.29 or less, 70 cents less than the average price of a Big Mac.


“While McDonald’s is trying to convince people that they can make as good a premium-quality burger as Hardee’s or Carl’s Jr. can, we knew we could make a bigger, better Big Mac for less money at both brands,” added Puzder. “The Big Hardee costs a lot less than the Big Mac, is charbroiled, and has more meat and cheese. And instead of having a third bun, the Big Hardee has a third beef patty.  We think burger fans will love that.”


Commercials supporting The Big Hardee begin airing in Hardee’s markets Wed., while the popular commercials for the Big Carl began last month. Both campaigns can be viewed on the brands’ YouTube channels ( and


In addition to the Big Carl and the Big Hardee introductions, both chains also began airing a new commercial today intended to set the record straight regarding the differences between the McDonald’s Corporation’s Angus Third Pounders compared to Carl’s Jr. Six Dollar Burgers and Hardee’s Thickburgers.  The humorous new ad, entitled “Nothing,” stars CEO Puzder calming down a nervous executive worried about the impact of McDonald’s Angus Third Pounders.  After discussing the differences between the burgers, the executive asks Puzder what they should do, and the reply is “Nothing.” The ads, created by longtime agency, Mendelsohn/Zien Advertising, can also be viewed on the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s YouTube channels.


“Our 100% Black Angus burgers are superior in taste and quality for the same price or less, and our new advertising campaign makes that clear,” added Puzder. “Try one for yourself and taste the difference – ours are charbroiled for that backyard grill flavor, while the ‘McAngus burgers’ are fried on a flat grill. They keep telling people they should be loving it, but consumers will now know that the first fast-food restaurants to serve 100% Black Angus Beef burgers, Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, are still the only fast-food restaurants serving them.  In fact, we’re so confident that people will prefer our burgers to McDonald’s rip-offs, that we’ll give them their money back if they don’t.”


Any consumer wanting a refund can request a mail-in form at any Carl’s Jr. or Hardee’s restaurants. Guests just need to fill out the form, attach a receipt, and mail it in for a full refund. The money-back guarantee begins today and will be offered through Oct. 13. See individual restaurants for details.


But that’s not all - the premium burger wars have even spilled over onto the internet.  A digital campaign featuring comedian J.B. Smoove (HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and FOX’s “‘Til Death”) also launched today on both brands’ Facebook pages ( and and YouTube channels. Smoove offers an inspirational rant for all Americans to stand up against the oppression of over-priced, under-whelming products – encouraging people to go to Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s instead. The campaign was created by digital agency 72 and Sunny.


Stay tuned to Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s Web sites, social media pages and Twitter feeds ( and for even more details of the ongoing premium burger wars.


About CKE Restaurants, Inc.

Headquartered in Carpinteria, Calif., CKE Restaurants, Inc. is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “CKR.” As of the end of its fiscal 2010 first quarter, CKE Restaurants, Inc., through its subsidiaries, had a total of 3,133 franchised, licensed or company-operated restaurants in 42 states and in 14 countries, including 1,205 Carl's Jr. restaurants and 1,915 Hardee's restaurants. For more information about CKE Restaurants, please visit