Behind Kim Kardashian’s Live Facebook Video for Carl’s Jr.

Fast food chain Carl’s Jr. wants hot-blooded American men to eat more of its grilled chicken salads, and it’s resorting to one of the oldest tricks in the book: A beautiful woman in lingerie.

But unlike previous TV spots with bikini-clad hotties, the woman in question is Kim Kardashian, who has a huge fan base that includes many women. And so Carl’s Jr. — which is no stranger to using sex to sell burgers to its core “young, hungry guy” demographic — is trying not to ostracize salad-eating women this time as well. What’s more, the campaign has also used social media in a new way by including a live event on Facebook that played to Kardashian’s tremendous digital following and opened up Carl’s Jr. to her online fan base of both genders.

Anyone was able to watch the virtual lunch event on Wednesday under the “Salads Are Hot” tab on Carl’s Jr.’s Facebook page, but only those who had purchased salads and received a code (or found it on Facebook or Twitter) were able to ask questions.

“We wanted to incentivize our customers,” said Brad Rosenberg, manager for digital strategy and marketing at Carl’s Jr. “And so the only questions that Kim [saw came] from people who [had] the code.”

Customers were also able to watch from the 144 Carl’s Jr. locations with Indoor Direct, the restaurant television network, as well as on ustream.tv, the Web site for the live, interactive video platform that powered the event.

The effort is new turf for Carl’s Jr. and 72andSunny, the digital marketing agency that collaborated with the restaurant on the campaign, and Rosenberg wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of audience. “It’s kind of like a TV show premiere or opening weekend of a movie,” he said. “You put the word out and make sure everyone knows and kind of hope for the best after that.”

While the total number of viewers has not yet been determined, Carls Jr. says 16,000 participants logged in to ask questions.

Rosenberg said Kardashian is a natural fit because she’s such a huge star in the digital space. She has about 2.8 million followers on Twitter — far eclipsing former Carl’s Jr. babe Paris Hilton’s 1.3 million — and 660,000 fans on Facebook. What’s more, the video of her Carl’s Jr. commercial on YouTube has racked up 1.8 million views.

“We’re just trying to bring all those people into the fold and allow them to have one-on-one time with Kim,” Rosenberg said.

And that includes women.

But any time there’s a scantily clad woman rolling around on a bed while scooping dressing from her bosom and licking an apple while taking a bath, it’s hard to deny Carl’s Jr. is playing to its loyal male audience and appealing to their baser instincts to convince them to buy salads.

Justin Hooper, creative director at advertising agency Mendelsohn Zien, said the main reason he liked Kardashian for this campaign was that salads are a better fit for her than a burger. “We didn’t want to go after a fitness guru because this is Carl’s Jr. It’s a big, juicy indulgent product whether it’s a salad or a burger,” he said.

Rosenberg conceded that “a sexy girl can sell a lot of things.” But he also says, “For this time of year, [with] New Year’s resolutions, salad is a perfect product. And, whether they admit it or not, guys are just as self-conscious about what they eat as women are.”

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