Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s Morph Select Fans Into X-Men Characters

x-men-digital-makeoverQuick-service brands Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s are teaming up with film studio 20th Century Fox to support the release of the movie X-Men: Days of Future Past on May 23 in a promotion “targeting super-human appetites” that asks fans to submit photos for a chance to receive an X-Men Digital Makeover.

The campaign also includes so-called “X-Tra Bacon” menu items, which are being promoted through X-Men-themed commercials from creative agency 72andSunny. The ads include appearances by X-Men characters that use their superpowers to take down the “X-Tra servings” of bacon on the Western X-Tra Bacon Cheeseburger and X-Tra Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Biscuit.

The campaign kicked off the week of March 24 with the premiere of the first ad, which includes the shape-shifting character Mystique. It was posted to both Carl’s Jr.’s and Hardee’s YouTube channels and has a combined 95,000 views as of March 31.

Brandon LaChance, director of advertising at CKE Restaurants, which owns and licenses about 3,400 Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants in 42 states and 30 countries and territories, says the brands will release two additional spots starring the characters Colossus and Quicksilver in April.

The Mystique video also features a 15-second how-to push for the X-Men Digital Makeover, in which the brands invite fans to “unleash their inner mutants” by submitting photos of themselves on Instagram with Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s menu items and the hashtag #EatLikeYouMeanIt for the chance to receive a “photo mutant makeover.”

As of March 31, #EatLikeYouMeanIt had about 9,700 posts on Instagram.

According to LaChance, the brand is “being kind of selective” to differentiate this promotion from other apps like AMC’s Walking Dead Zombify Yourself Challenge.

“Digital makeovers and those kind of apps are a little bit all the same,” LaChance says. “We actually have hired a team of retouchers, if you will, that will personally do this to each one that is selected and makes it a higher quality and more special [and] unique. It’s more shareable and there’s more of a pride factor if you’re selected.”

According to LaChance, the brand can’t make over every photo that might be submitted, so it will choose the best images and/or angles “so each person receives the best digital makeover possible.”

The total number will depend on response, but LaChance says there will “certainly be several hundred and maybe into the low thousands.”

The brand has also launched an X-Men Makeover microsite to showcase completed makeovers. As of March 31, the site featured 27 makeovers.

“Basically, the new products we have [include] extra bacon and it’s so much bacon and beef that it takes an extraordinary appetite like one that [an X-Men character] might have,” LaChance says. “We want to give [movie fans] an opportunity to showcase extraordinary hunger and…give [them] an X-Men makeover so they have that image to share on social or anywhere else. It also has a nice added benefit to us, which is an in-store traffic-driver. One of the requirements is that you showcase yourself with any Carl’s Jr. or Hardee’s product.”

The target is the brand’s traditional “young, hungry guys,” or men 18 to 34, but also includes fans of the science fiction or superhero genre that LaChance calls “social high-frequency fast-food users” who are fans of QSR and more apt to share “and sort of engage with brands and content,” he says.

According to LaChance, in addition to promotion via YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, the brand has identified seven “social influencers” like Talking Dead host Chris Hardwick that have a “combination of Web and social reach and are ingrained with some of the attributes we’re trying to [target].”

The comedian Hardwick appeals to younger guys, as well as sci-fi fans with The Walking Dead link, he explains. Additional influencers include The View host Jenny McCarthy. These influencers will be submitting photos to promote sharing, he says.

Related reading

Overhead view of a row of four business people interviewing a young male applicant.