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Saturday, Feb 4, 2023

Big Buzz, but Little Bite From Those Paris Hilton Burger Ads

Sex isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be at least when it comes to selling burgers.

Same-store sales at Carl’s Jr. rose a mere 1.7 percent for the four weeks ended June 20 the period in which the fast-food chain ran Paris Hilton’s much-discussed commercial for Carl’s Jr.’s Spicy Barbecue burger. That’s slower than the overall 2.3 percent same-store growth at Carl’s Jr. so far this year.


Analysts following Carl’s parent, Carpenteria-based CKE Restaurants Inc., had been waiting to see whether the ad in which the swimsuit-clad socialite seductively washes a car while eating a hamburger would raise sales.


“It doesn’t appear that there’s a noticeable boost from the Paris Hilton ads,” analyst Anton Brenner of Roth Capital Partners said during a conference call on first quarter earnings with CKE executives. “It might have gotten a lot of attention, but it’s hard to squint and see how it’s impacted your actual sales performance.”


For the first quarter ended May 23, just as the Hilton ads began running, CKE had net income of $16 million, compared with $10.5 million for the like period a year earlier. Revenue rose 2.3 percent, to $465.9 million.


Carl’s Jr. does not break out sales of specific products, so it’s not known what effect the Paris Hilton ads had on the specific burger she was hired to promote.


CKE President and Chief Executive Andrew Puzder defended the spots, saying they helped lift sales during a time Carl’s Jr was not running other promotions. And Puzder noted that the Spicy Barbecue item had been introduced weeks before the Hilton commercials aired.


“There was no new product to go with this,” he said. “Normally when you have an ad this impactful you have a new product that goes with it and that increases the impact.”


Sales spike or not, CKE Restaurants is proceeding with its plan to turn a Web site it created for the commercial www.spicyparis.com into an all-purpose lifestyle site for its target market of young, burger-munching males.


The ads were created by Los Angeles advertising agency Mendelsohn Zien Advertising LLC, whose executives have noted that young men were ordering the “Paris Hilton burger” after watching the commercial.



Captive Audiences


If the lineup of commercials preceding most movies seems to be getting longer and longer, it’s no Hollywood illusion.


Theater advertising grew 23 percent in 2004 to $438 million, according to the Cinema Advertising Council. The rise was fueled by heavier advertising by theme parks, satellite radio, Web sites, home improvement and restaurants.


Expect to see more. In announcing the 2004 numbers, the council’s president, Matthew Kearney, projected double-digit growth in theatrical advertising each year for the foreseeable future.


The trend has brought a backlash from consumer advocates and politicians who argue that moviegoers shelling out $10 or more per ticket shouldn’t be subjected to as much as an hour of commercials and previews before the show.


In May, Loews Cineplex Entertainment Corp. announced that it would begin to advertise the true start times of movies rather than the time when the commercials begin.



In Circulation


Three months after losing its circulation director to the Los Angeles Times, the rival Los Angeles Newspaper Group, part of Dean Singleton’s MediaNews Group Inc., has reached across the country for an executive to head its circulation operations.


LANG, which includes the Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram and six other daily newspapers, has hired Tony Mineart as senior vice president for circulation. Mineart came from the Herald-Tribune in Sarasota, Fla., whose publisher, Diane McFarlin, praised him as “one of the best circulation directors in our industry.”


Mineart replaces Jack Klunder, who left the Los Angeles Newspaper Group in April to go to the Los Angeles Times as senior vice president of circulation.



Radio Stars


What do hard-rock stalwarts Motley Crue, actress Charlize Theron and radio and television broadcaster Wink Martindale have in common? All are in line to get stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006, according to a list of recipients released by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.


Besides Martindale, the stars-to-be include three other veterans of local radio broadcasting: the KOST-FM (103.5) morning duo of Mark & Kim and longtime KABC-AM (790) newsman Dan Avey. The KOST duo’s full names are Mark Wallengren and Kim Amidon.


The 70-year-old Martindale may be best known as host of game shows such as “Tic Tac Dough,” but his voice is still heard on radio. He hosts the oldies-themed “Music of Your Life” to about 200 U.S. radio stations from his Calabasas home, including KLAC-AM (570) in Los Angeles.



Bonaduce Out


Danny Bonaduce, the former child star known for his 1970s role on the Partridge Family and his more recent battles with substance abuse, is no longer on local radio.


After finishing his morning show on KYSR-FM on July 1, Bonaduce was told that his services would no longer be needed, according to local radio sources and articles in radio trade publications. Within a few hours, KYSR, better known as Star 98.7, took down references to Bonaduce from its Web site and renamed its 5:30-10 a.m. show “Jamie, Jack & Stretch” from “Jamie & Danny.” Jamie White, Bonaduce’s longtime co-host, took the reins.


Bonaduce, who recently completed a 30-day term in rehab, could not be reached. KYSR General Manager Brad Samuel declined to comment on whether Bonaduce’s struggles with substance abuse played a role in his dismissal. He said the station was moving in a “different creative direction.”



*Staff reporter James Nash can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 230, or at

jnash@labusinessjournal.com

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