Industry News | March 22, 2011

Carl's Jr., Hardee's Roll Out First Turkey Burger Line

Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s announced a new line of Charbroiled Turkey Burgers. The sister brands are the first fast food chains to offer turkey burgers on a national basis. The new product offering is available now at all Hardee’s and will be available March 23 at Carl’s Jr. locations.

The new line of Charbroiled Turkey Burgers was created in collaboration with the editors of Men’s Health and the creators of the bestselling Eat This, Not That! brand to offer indulgent but better-for-you food “swaps” for some of the chains’ higher-calorie beef burger options. Each of the three Charbroiled Turkey Burgers offered at both chains has less than 500 calories.

“Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s are famous for their big, decadent, sit-down restaurant quality burgers, many of which are made with 100 percent Black Angus beef,” says Brad Haley, executive vice president of marketing for CKE Restaurants Inc., parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s. “But more and more customers today are looking for great-tasting burgers that are better for them and/or are available with a beef alternative. So, we teamed up with the creators of Eat This, Not That! to develop a line of delicious—and still indulgent—Charbroiled Turkey Burgers, with toppings like guacamole, sautéed mushrooms, or grilled pineapple.

“Ironically, several of our burgers made the Not That! list in the past, so we’re happy to now feature some products worthy of the Eat This! side,” Haley says. “And, because we use quarter-pound turkey patties and we charbroil them, they are still very filling and taste great.”

To create the burgers, CKE’s menu development team worked hand-in-hand with Matt Goulding,coauthor of the Eat This, Not That! book series. CKE and Goulding developed five burgers to maintain a premium-quality taste.

The Turkey Burger, available at Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, features a charbroiled turkey patty, ketchup, mayonnaise, lettuce, red onion, tomato, and dill pickle chips. The Teriyaki Turkey Burger, available at Carl’s Jr., features a charbroiled turkey patty, teriyaki sauce, grilled pineapple, Swiss cheese, red onion, tomato, and lettuce.

The Guacamole Turkey Burger, available at Carl’s Jr., features a charbroiled turkey patty, freshly prepared guacamole, pepper-Jack cheese, tomato, and lettuce. The Mushroom Swiss Turkey Burger, available at Hardee’s, features a charbroiled turkey patty, sautéed mushrooms, and two slices of Swiss cheese.

Finally, the BBQ Ranch Turkey Burger, available at Hardee’s, features a charbroiled turkey patty, barbecue sauce, red onion, tomato, lettuce, and buttermilk ranch sauce.

All Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s Turkey Burgers are served on a toasted wheat bun.

“Menu items from both Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s have often landed on our ‘worst foods’ list because of their high calorie counts,” says David Zinczenko, coauthor of the Eat This, Not That! series and editor-in-chief of Men’s Health. “So, we were excited to work with them to develop this new line of Charbroiled Turkey Burgers. This opportunity shows our brand’s impact on the fast food industry and how Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s are doing their part by providing healthier options.”

“We totally buy into the Eat This, Not That! philosophy of making better-for-you food choices that are also still delicious and indulgent because, human nature being what it is, those are the kind of foods people will be more likely to continue to eat time and time again,” Haley says. “We could have opted to promote carrot sticks and apple slices like some of our competitors, but people just don’t buy them. When they want a burger, they want a burger, and now they can get great ones that just happen to be better for them, too. That’s a trade-off that’s easy for anyone to make.”

The launch of the new Charbroiled Turkey Burgers will also be supported with TV, radio, and print ads developed by CKE’s new advertising agency of record, Los Angeles–based David & Goliath. David & Goliath’s ads for the brand will feature Gizem Memic, the reigning Miss Turkey from the Miss Universe pageant, and will also debut the brand’s new campaign tagline: “Just the way it is.”

“Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s stand for great quality food, served up with a no-BS attitude,” says David Angelo, chairman and chief creative officer of David & Goliath. “Our goal was to simply leverage their truth and tell it in a more contemporary and conversational way. The tagline ‘Just the way it is’ does just that. It embraces the voice in all of us that's unafraid to be who we are and own it. And that's just the way it is.”

The ad, titled “Miss Turkey,” can be viewed on the brands’ YouTube channels and will start airing nationally later this week. The Turkey Burger launch will also be supported through digital efforts on the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s Facebook pages.