I Almost Became an Activist. Oh, and Happy Opening Day.

The idea for this post has been in my head for a year now. Let me give a quick back story to get you all up to speed.

No secret if you’ve been reading here for a while: our family, and particularly my two oldest boys, are die-hard Cardinals fans. Until you’re living with people who love a team like these boys of mine do, you can’t fully understand how consuming and fun this can be.

Opening Day is greeted with holiday-like anticipation. I very clearly remember it last year, the boys coming home after school to watch the first game of the season. And then, I remember me being appalled, and having a chat with Matt, and us having to institute a “mute the commercials” rule in our house.

Why, you ask? Well, here it is.

Clearly, muting the television does little to prevent people from seeing this, but our hope was that with the tv muted, at least the music wouldn’t catch their attention to look at the screen. And if one of us was sitting watching a game with them, we’d change the channel when it came on.

Plus, of course, we explained what was wrong with it.

But hello, we all know how visual males are (that is not a put-down; it’s truth). In preparation for writing this post, I told the boys what I was doing (in appropriate terms), and asked them, out of curiosity, if they knew which commercial caused us to have to mute the TV starting last year. Immediately, both of them, via gestures and a few words, identified the Hardee’s Miss Turkey commercial. Ugh.

Last spring, I was upset about this…but I had this feeling that I’m just one mom, how much of a difference can I make, etc, etc. And I didn’t do anything about it.

—–

Enter this new commercial from Hardee’s, released several weeks ago. Be warned, if you’ve not seen it, that your children should not be anywhere near.

If that appeared in the middle of a G or PG movie, parents would be incensed, right? And one glimpse at their FB page a few weeks ago when I started working on all of this confirmed that I wasn’t alone: I looked at probably 100 comments, and 98 of them were about that commercial, with all but 2 of those being disgusted by it.

I was. And I was definitely worried that pretty soon, that commercial was going to show up in the middle of Cardinals broadcasts on Fox Sports Midwest, given their track record.

So this year I decided, “so what? So what if I’m the only one who complains about this? I’m going to get in touch with people and let them know what I think.” People at Fox Sports Midwest, people at Hardee’s, and people at the Cardinals. I feared a major uphill battle, and envisioned asking my readers to help me storm the emails/phones of the people in charge.

However, after some help from my friend Aimee in tracking down the Hardee’s ad agency (and encouragement to proceed with this project!!), I found out that wouldn’t be necessary.

After contacting the ad agency, they put me in touch directly with Hardee’s PR manager, who is here in StL. I emailed her my concerns. While waiting for a response from her, I uncovered some contacts at Fox Sports Midwest, as well as a whole slew of people in PR/media at the Cardinals, and emailed all of them, letting them know I was a mom, Cardinals fan, and blogger, concerned about this commercial airing, and that I’d love to meet with them as I was local, etc.

I planned to give them a couple of days, just to see if anyone would follow up via email, and if not, I’d give them a call.

Lo and behold, I heard not only from someone at Fox Sports Midwest (he responded within hours), but also from the Hardee’s contact again (and she was cc’ing the PR Director at the Cardinals on her reply) that the Kate Upton ad would NOT be airing on any pre-season or in-season Cardinals games! EDITED TO ADD: this sadly did not end up being the case throughout the season. Shocking, right?

Enter me, jumping for joy for about 8 seconds, and sending an email of thanks, then thinking about it for a minute, and emailing the Hardee’s contact again, asking exactly which commercial would be airing instead. And wouldn’t you know, I didn’t hear back from her.

So I’m still holding my breath, waiting to see what will air today during the game (post script: the first game was on ESPN, and I wasn’t home to watch it, so Friday will be the real test), praying it’s not horribly inappropriate. While I’m not aiming to shelter my kids from everything (I mean, they attend public school and ride the bus, for crying out loud), this was way over the line for me and has no place being seen by children.

Interestingly, in her initial response to my concern, the Hardee’s PR gal said this:

We do adopt a very creative approach to our advertising. It is intended to communicate the core message of our premium quality food to our target audience of Young, Hungry Guys. We don’t aim to exclude or offend any other groups with our efforts, but merely to appeal and amuse a very specific audience. We understand that not everyone may view our advertising the same way, so we respect all views and do welcome comments and feedback.

Really? “Creative?” That almost leaves me speechless.

Except that I will say this: we decided several years ago to boycott Hardee’s, when their ad campaigns turned so nasty, starting with Paris Hilton. It’s really the only way I can think of to let them know we hate their advertising.Β  I’d encourage you to do the same if you haven’t already.

—–

Enough of that…GO CARDINALS! We are so excited that baseball season is here!Β  World Series win #12 in 2012 has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

43 responses to “I Almost Became an Activist. Oh, and Happy Opening Day.

  1. Nicole, as soon as I started reading your post I thought, “I wonder if she’s going to talk about Hardee’s commercials”. The girls and I have been turning those off whenever they come on TV for years. Based on what I remember of how old my girls were when we first started noticing the “smut sells burgers” mentality from them I’m thinking we began our boycott about a decade ago? I remember on one vacation when my husband suggested that we stop to eat and indicated that Hardee’s was at the next exit. All 3 of us girls simultaneously said, “Not Hardee’s!!”

    From what I remember, the outrage about content has been getting communicated to that chain for years and yet they keep cranking out the likes of what you saw. :O Be vigilant, mom. Your sons are worth it. πŸ™‚

  2. You. Are. Amazing. That is all.

  3. I didn’t even know Hardee’s still existed until one of your facebook posts last year. I’m not sure we even have any more up here.

    I couldn’t help but laugh at two things from her email:

    “the core message of our premium quality food” . . . really? Is that the core message of this commercial?

    And the fact that “Young, Hungry Guys” is capitalized. As if it’s an official club, or something.

    Oy.

    I’m so glad you pursued this. It’s inspiring.

  4. Well, obviously, since I’m not a sports-watcher, I’d never seen the commercials til I clicked them on this post. The explicit-ness (word?) of the Kate one–GAG!!–sick!! Not a new concept, for sure (i.e., Don’t all new cars come w/ a beautiful girl draped over its exterior?), but this Kate business is ewwwwww.

    Proud of you for taking the time, thought, & energy to try to do what you–as one mom–could/can! From the sounds of Jan’s comments (their family’s boycott, as well as her last para), you’re NOT the only one. Hey, your blog is getting the word out too! As far as I’m concerned, I’ll have no problem checking Hardee’s off our list (hardly ever go there anyway, but now I have more reason not to).

    • Thanks for boycotting along with us! The kids definitely know that Hardee’s is not a choice. And I had to laugh at your car/girl comment…yes, that’s totally reality.

  5. Debbie Morrell

    Nicole! Nicole! Nicole! Thank you so much for so eloquently expressing our collective opinions. I have not darkened the doorstep of a Hardee’s since they had their “star” character ask a girl (in a tight dress, dancing in a night club) “how about breakfast? should I call you or nudge you?”…Same holds true of our banishment of anything Quizno’s. Remember the “were you raised by animals?” ad? Maybe not. Maybe because I ranted all the way up the chain about beastiality being “over the acceptable limits”. It was pulled -nationally. (Yep. that was me. Activist. – okay may not JUST me. But it felt good).

  6. I’m with you lady! But wouldn’t you know, all the guys in my office started eating at hardees right after that ad starting airing?! I called them “slut burgers” and explained why that kind marketing is brainless and cheap. Its the farthest thing from creativity. I’ve actually met that lady you emailed. She gave a presentation at an American Marketing Association symposium last year. I found her presentation unprofessional as she had nothing much more to say than “sex sells” but had no numbers to back it up and instead spent much of her time making fun of people who don’t agree with their approach. People like me…

  7. So proud of you, Nicole, for speaking up and trying to motivate positive change. Fans and consumers vote with their brand loyalty and dollars.
    You’re doing the Cardinals, Fox Sports and Hardee’s a favor by telling them their advertising is way off base and offensive to many viewers.

    If they listen and heed the warning, it’s really a win-win. The companies involved can show they are indeed “family-friendly.” The fans don’t feel slighted by obscene commercials during games. And Hardee’s can find a more targeted way to reach “Hungry, Young Guys” if they are still compelled to use their original spot (hint: it ain’t mass media anymore, Hardee’s).

    It will be very interesting to see what commercial Hardee’s airs today. Please follow up and let us know. I hope they do the right thing.

    If not, I’ll bet there are a lot of folks out there in Cardinal Nation who would be happy to send an email or post on a Facebook page to support your efforts as needed.

    PS: Thanks for the shout out!

  8. I admire your guts, determination, and diligence in making change where it is (obviously) necessary. Ads are getting far too out of hand. I guess you’re just taking your own parenting advice and becoming “a world starter.” Way to go, Nicole!

  9. Apparently our local Fox station did a piece on this just a month ago:

    http://fox2now.com/2012/03/02/hardees-ad-steaming-up-tvs-tempers/

  10. Can’t stand the Hardee’s commercials, AXE commercials, and several others out there…a bunch of junk! This being said though, the reality is that our kids are going to see them sooner or later whether we want them to or not. Billboards, friend’s houses, magazines in the grocery store to name a few. Our boys are 10 and 6…our daughter is 8. Their innocent eyes are being opened up to this sick world everyday in so many ways…most beyond my control…. What we’ve done….you may not agree :)….when these types of commercials/shows come on…
    EX…(Christina Aguliera’s boobs on “The Voice”) we ask them what they think about it….this has opened up the door to some great conversations with our daughter about appropriate dressing and with the boys as to what type of girl really wants to honor God by dressing this way……Fact of the matter is…they WILL see it….just depends on how we handle each particular situation.

    • To some extent, I agree, Michele…I don’t want to shelter them, because honestly, I really feel like that backfires more often than it works in a parent’s favor. We’ve definitely used this technique you mentioned before.

      However, this is way over the line, and falls under the “things they’ll see later rather than sooner” (or hey, a mom can dream, never) category for me.

  11. I so totally agree with you!! We were just talking about this at small group last week – how horrible and unnecessary these commercials are.
    Plus, “premium quality food” – seriously, that is just wrong. There is nothing of quality about Hardees food (from a nutrition stand point) and what about these commercials conveys that message anyway? Blah!!!

  12. Atta Girl! Go get ’em.

    I have muted TV commercials for as long as I can remember mainly because the noise makes me batty. I trained Lee early on in our marriage to hit mute as soon as the commercials came on and all of our kids know to do the same. Not only does it save my sanity, but it also cuts back a bit on the “Gimme’s” due to obnoxious advertising. And yeah…so many commercials are wickedly inappropriate so I’m happy to keep the sound off so little eyes are more likely to look away.

    I actually really loathe the television. If I didn’t live in a house full of sports nuts I’d get rid of it altogether. πŸ™‚

  13. you go girl!

  14. Elizabeth Ward

    Yay Nicole! You go girl. Apparently creative=slutty these days. No thanks.

  15. Our family has not been to Hardees since the Paris Hilton commercials aired. I was almost ready to think about going there again when the drive in commercial came out. So disappointing. So easy as far as marketing is concerned…shows a real LACK of creativity if you ask me. I would love all the contact information if you can post it. I would love to add our family’s voice to the discussion.

  16. Torri Peterson

    Wise, chaste, thoughtful, astute, prudent, honest, responsible…
    Those are just a few of the qualities I could think of to describe the many customers Hardee’s is losing. I do hope Fox Sports and the Cardinals keep this in mind as they sell advertising space!

  17. Whew! I was totally unaware of all this until I just read your blog and all the comments. I don’t remember the last time we stopped at a Hardee’s but it certainly is going on my no go list now. In this family our grandson Mark, age almost 11, is the big Cards fan. I am going to warn Chrissy and Bryan about this — though she is one of your blog fans and am sure she is already aware. Thanks, Nicole, for taking the initiative, taking action, and spreading the word. And ditto for all the above comments!

  18. Thank you, Nicole!!! It is disgusting what people do to sell things….”family TV” is NOT family-oriented anymore!

  19. haglerhappenings

    I HATE these Hardee’s commercials. I turn the channel as fast as possible when they come on. And, I too, have boycotted Hardee’s (not that I ever ate there anyway) but voting by where I choose to spend our hard earned money is something I feel strongly about.

  20. carol bloemer

    Years ago my father said that once the morals of the youth are broken down the world will go to hell. I think that that time has come…..and commercials like the latest Hardee’s is just speeding up the decline. NO MORE HARDEE BURGERS FOR THIS FAMILY.

  21. After seeing the Paris Hilton commercial years ago, my family (husband and I with 2 little boys at the time) boycotted Hardees quietly…we won’t go there anymore. I emailed the company and of course never heard back. We havent eaten there since, and get an eye roll or chuckle occassionally from friends/family when we’ve needed to explain our stance. Thanks for posting this, and for letting me know that we arent alone;-)

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