CKE Restaurants tap Kate Upton for Southwest Patty Melt (video)


CKE RestaurantsCKE’s Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s are known for their use of pop-culture icons in their advertising, so casting Kate Upton as their latest spokeswoman in the campaign for the Southwest Patty Melt was no surprise. However, Upton was signed and the ads filmed before the brands, or Kate herself, knew that she would be chosen as the 2012 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover model. So, talk about your advertising ROI.

The commercial, “Drive-In,” is a spicy twist on a classic – a classic drive-in setting, featuring a classic All-American girl eating a classic Patty Melt, but all are heated up with the Southwestern flavors of jalapeños, pepper-Jack cheese and Santa Fe sauce.

CKE spokesperson Beth Mansfield tells RBR-TVBR the Drive-In media buy includes ESPN, Comedy Central, FX, History, Spike, MTV and others. Specific program highlights include NCAA Tournament on DirecTV, Tosh.0, South Park, Storage Wars and others. They also also have LA DMA tune-in spots for the Food Network show “Heat Seekers.” National buys are dual-branded with both Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s. Regional buys are brand specific.

See the spot here:

Previous campaigns featuring Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian and Padma Lakshmi, each generated a great deal of pop-culture buzz, but they have now been eclipsed by the success of Kate Upton’s campaign. Media coverage of Kate’s participation in the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s ad for the Southwest Patty Melt currently stands at 627 million impressions. The online-only :60 director’s cut of the ad has been viewed more than 3.6 million times. The :30 Drive-In spot and two behind-the-scenes videos bring the total views to nearly 4.5 million. Fans in 220 different countries around the globe have watched the various videos.

Media coverage about Kate’s commercial and the Southwest Patty Melt has ranged from FOX News and People magazine to USA Today and, of course, In a post on, research conducted by BrandIndex shows that Upton has made quite an impression on 18-to-34-year-old males. According to BrandIndex, Hardee’s saw a 24-point jump in impression score for the brand among that group. BrandIndex is a national research firm that tracks consumer perception of brands.

The :60 version of the ad took the top spot on the Ad Age Viral Video Chart 3/8, and was at No. 10 the following week.

Other stats CKE has released:

•More than 120,000 new Facebook fans for Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s since the ad launched

•104% increase in site visits over the previous week to brand site after the :60 Director’s cut video was posted

•83% increase in visits over the previous week to brand site after the :60 Director’s cut video was posted

•More than 5,000 tweets have mentioned the product, Kate @KateUpton, the ad and the brands @CarlsJr and @Hardees

•Those 5,000 tweets reached more than 12.4 million Twitter followers and had a 94% approval rating

And, it wouldn’t be a successful ad campaign if there weren’t parodies of the spot. Hulk Hogan and a half-dozen lesser-known characters have posted YouTube parodies. Even Jay Leno got into the act, featuring Kate in the Drive-In ad in a funny send-up on the Tonight Show.