Youth Marketing Insights » CKE Restaurants http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/meghanstuyvenberg Inspiring best in practice youth marketing through sharing of ideas, strategy, trends and conversations about cool stuff Thu, 04 Feb 2010 04:31:40 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.9.2 en hourly 1 DUDE, Carl’s Jr taps into mysteriously hungry gen-y skateboarders http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/meghanstuyvenberg/2009/03/19/carls_jr_taps_into_hungry_gen_y/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/meghanstuyvenberg/2009/03/19/carls_jr_taps_into_hungry_gen_y/#comments Thu, 19 Mar 2009 01:41:01 +0000 Meghan Stuyvenberg http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/meghanstuyvenberg/?p=87 American quick-service chain, Carl’s Jr., has revealed more details of their BFF partnership with skateboarding star Rob Dyrdek, aimed to engage “hungry” Gen-Y and Gen-Z guys, as explained by Andrew F. Puzder, chief executive of CKE Restaurants in a recent NY Times article.

Background – the partnership is an integrated campaign with retail elements, sponsorship of a new charitable skate park in downtown Los Angeles, YouTube videos, all the social media sites and featuring the brand and CEO Mr Puzder on “Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory,” the skateboarder’s MTV show. For those not familiar, Carl’s Jr. is the QSR that brought us pop-culture marketing campaigns such as EAT MEAT (my first bumper-sticker BTW), and the infamous bikini-clad Paris Hilton car washing video. So needless to say they have been pretty successful at creating campaigns with WOM appeal among that meat-loving, fast food eating, young male population. Oh, and me to but I am probably an anomaly.

I have always been loyal to Carl’s, in LA they were my guilty, late-night pleasure. So I am all for this campaign. Of course as the article references it is great to see companies continuing to invest in “experimental” marketing initiatives – although at what point will we stop calling them experimental, maybe at the same time we stop using traditional vs non-traditional to describe media. In my opinion and without access to any evidence of this, I would think Carl’s would already have a relationship with this audience, therefore already have a level of involvement. Something about the “hungry” male and Carl’s Jr. seem to go hand in hand. Can’t stop myself from calling out the not-so-subtle reference of the super-hungry, skateboarder – is it skateboarding that makes them sooooo hungry?

Moving on….what I think is really interesting is the involvement CKE CEO Andrew Puzder in the partnership. I think it’s a solid move to integrate him into the show, press images and other channels. This says to me Carl’s values the relationships they have with its audiences, and could signal a shift in its marketing into more of a business model. If he could only become a pro skateboarder that would be the pinnacle, in the meantime I appreciate that he physically delivered food to the skateboarding posse as the first point of contact.

One note of caution, I think this will be a big test of authenticity for the brand. The skateboarding community has been notoriously difficult to tap. However defined, this specific tribe is hard on brands that try to market to them as “skateboarders”. In some cases we have seen that they even use the cool insert-service/product-here that companies flog them, and then they turn around and bag them out for it. Grass roots approaches seem to resonate here more than other sports-tribes such as snowboarding or surfing. That is why it took Nike so long to crack, and why Red Bull and others have dabbled but not dropped in. Maybe as high-profile figures such as the Tony Hawk, Bam Margera and Rob Dyrdek continue to bridge the mainstream divide, they will be able to do the same for the brands they work with.

While sometimes difficult to make a corporate brand messages skateboarder-esque, the videos are funny, the food is good, they donated to an inner-city charity and it has some good examples of multi-channel executions –– so, DUDE, I like it!

Photo credit: NY Times, Rob Dyrdek, left, and Andrew F. Puzder, CKE CEO, united to promote the sport and sell burgers.

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