Close to 30,000 fans thought they could write clever new commercials for the Hardee’s highly popular Little Thickburger advertising campaign … and they were right. The restaurant chain unveils 16 new user-created television spots in markets throughout the Midwest and Southeast today.

Little Thickburgers were introduced in September 2008 after Hardee’s developed reduced-sized versions of its original 1/3-lb Thickburgers in a smaller ¼-lb package. The Little Thickburgers needed an ad campaign that would illustrate the point that they are still thick and still big on taste, albeit in a smaller size.

The task fell to Mendelsohn|Zien, masterminds behind many iconic Hardee’s ads including the memorable Paris Hilton commercial, “That’s Hot,” from 2005 and the “Fake Restaurant” campaign from spring 2008. The resulting commercials illustrated the size difference between the classic 1/3 Thickburgers and the new 1-4-lb Little Thickburgers in various humorous ways. In one ad, The Original Thickburger is described as “Badonkadonk” while the Little Thickburger earns the “Badinkadink” title.

The commercials proved to be such a hit with viewers that the chain created a Little Thickburger online “Ad Generator” at so they could create versions of their own. The application allows users to put their copywriting skills to the test by creating the descriptive words that appear above each respective burger in the ads. In addition to allowing users to share their creation with friends, the budding creative directors could submit their ads to Hardee’s to be considered for upcoming ads.

With no big cash prize or other inducement to participate, close to 30,000 entries have been submitted to date. The quality of the ads far exceeded expectations. So much so that 16 original user-designed commercials made the cut instead 1 or 2 as was the original plan. The chain even plans to run the credited ads in the markets from which they were submitted, so the creators can earn maximum street cred for their ideas.

“We have a reputation for edgy and humorous advertising, and the Little Thickburger campaign was a great example of that approach,” says Brad Haley, EVP of Marketing for Hardee’s. “When the campaign started to produce a lot of fan mail from viewers, we wanted to let people have more fun with it so we created the online ‘Ad Generator’ app, so people could create ads of their own.”

The television commercials will begin airing in Hardee’s markets today. To view the complete user-created Little Thickburger ad campaign, visit the Hardee’s YouTube channel. Hardee’s will also be posting versions of the ads online that were too hot for primetime in the near future.

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