Today American burger giant Carl’s Jr will open its first store in Australia, to celebrate the artery-clogging funhouse opening a Bateau Bay store in the Central Coast, B&T is looking back on all the controversy surrounding the chain’s overly sexist advertising.
The Bateau Bay store cost an estimated $2 million to set up, the plan is for Carl’s Jr to open 300 stores across Australia over the next 10 to 15 years. A burger fan has been lining up outside the Bateau Bay store since Sunday night.
The Bateau Bay store’s franchisee Lindsey Brennan told news.com.au the marketing strategy is mainly focused on dudes: “Men 18-35 is the target market primarily, but our restaurant is a standard up from what’s out there. Our restaurants are for families and comfortable for women.”
The marketing strategy usually features scantily-clad women including Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton and Kate Upton, accompanied by slogans like “Eat Like You Mean It”, “It’s Gonna Get Messy” and “She’ll tell you size doesn’t matter. She’s lying.”
Andrew Puzder, CEO of Carl’s Jr recently told Entrepreneur: “I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American.”
The Carl’s Jr arrival has already been met with backlash. The Cancer Council NSW has called out the decision to open the Carl’s Jr in the Central Coast, highlighting the latest NSW Health data showing 62 per cent of adults in the region are overweight or obese.
“This fast-food chain has obviously done its research in deciding to set up on the Central Coast,” Cancer Council NSW nutrition program manager Clare Hughes said. “We are deeply concerned about this type of fast food and its excess kilojoule count.”
A Collective Shout campaign started back in October calling for people to immediately launch a complaint to the Advertising Standards Board if they see a Carl’s Jr ad. The campaign argues that the sexually objectifying messages from Carl’s Jr advertising do three things:
- They teach boys and men that women are passive objects to be looked at and acted upon.
- They teach girls and women they exist to be viewed and they must judge themselves by their sexual desirability to others, rather than in terms of their own health and desires. And with that life-threatening line of thinking comes depression, eating disorders, shame, decreased cognitive functioning, sexual dysfunction and inability to find satisfaction and pleasure in sexual experiences. Suuuper sexy, right?
- They work as a tool used to dehumanize, control, and abuse women. Viewing someone as an object is “almost always the first step toward justifying violence against that person.” It makes it easier to mistreat women when they are seen as objects – not people.
Last year, research by the American Psychological Association found that raunchy advertising doesn’t actually work. “We found almost no evidence that violent and sexual programs and ads increased advertising effectiveness,” said Brad J. Bushman, PhD, professor of communication and psychology at The Ohio State University, and a co-author on the study.
“In general, we found violent and sexual programs, and ads with violent or sexual content decreased advertising effectiveness.”
Last week a New York ad agency Badger & Winters announced it would stop creating ads with sexist tropes of women. The campaign #WomenNotObjects includes an ad from Carl’s Jr (at 1.06)