Carl's Jr., McDonald's continue premium burger battle

by Bryan Salvage
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CARPINTERIA, CALIF. — Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s announced two new premium burger initiatives starting Sept. 14: The Big Hardee at Hardee’s and a new ad campaign, entitled "Nothing," both chains are airing in response to the recent launch of McDonald’s Angus Third Pounders.

In August, the increased competition in the premium burger segment began with McDonald’s launch of the Angus Third Pounders, which Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s officials charge is an attempt to copy its restaurant-style burgers. Carl’s Jr. said it launched The Big Carl as a counterpunch aimed at the Big Mac. The Big Carl contains 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, Carl’s Jr. claims.

"We knew people would be drawn to the Big Carl," said Andrew F. Puzder, chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants Inc., parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee's. "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-lb. gorilla."

"As always, we continue to be extremely flattered by all the attention," Danya Proud, senior manager, U.S. Media Relations, McDonald’s USA, told MEATPOULTRY.com. "At McDonald's, we remained focused on our business and serving our valued customers.

"Our line of Angus Third Pounders continue to be extremely well received by our customers and have played a role in the increase in U.S. comparable sales reported for both July and August," she added.

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, it costs $2.29 or less, which is 70 cents less than the average price of a Big Mac, the company said.

"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 Mr. 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."

Commercials supporting The Big Hardee begin airing in Hardee’s markets Sept. 16, while the commercials for the Big Carl began last month. Both campaigns can be viewed on the brands’ YouTube channels (www.youtube.com/carlsJr and www.youtube.com/hardees).

Both chains also began airing a new commercial featuring the differences between McDonald’s Angus Third Pounders compared to Carl’s Jr. Six Dollar Burgers and Hardee’s Thickburgers.

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