We almost never watch live TV anymore. When the TV is on, it’s mostly Netflix these days, but every once in a while, we watch live events. And it’s happened more than once now, where all of a sudden, my kids are staring at some sweaty, half-dressed young woman as she rides a mechanical bull, or grinds on the hood of a Camaro, or arches her back in ecstasy on the beach… all while messily eating a burger. A burger from Hardee’s to be exact (or Carls Jr. in some places). She seductively sucks down a drink with an extra wide straw, and takes a giant bite of a surprisingly sultry burger, whose juices always seem to end up spilling on her thigh or chest. Then she cleans it up—in slow motion—by wiping it up with her finger and licking her finger clean. And there I am, scrambling for the remote while trying to get my kids to look at some imaginary distraction….
I am so sick of these stupid commercials. I’m not trying to sound like a prude, here. Sex is great. It’s a really big part of being human (bigger for some than others), and I realize that “sex sells.” I’m not even saying this advertising campaign doesn’t work—I feel like eating a burger right now just writing about it–but my “beef” with these commercials is not just about sex. It’s about our kids (And yes, I’m aware that I sound a bit like Helen Lovejoy). Our kids are watching these commercials. If Hardee’s wants to be a sleazy company that uses soft porn to try and sell their burgers, I say great. Strip clubs have the right to exist, but I also have the right to expect that the strip club commercials aren’t being run during programs that my kids might be watching. And here’s the thing: I’ve seen a lot of strip club commercials in my life, and NONE of them are as overtly sexual and explicit as these freaking Hardee’s commercials. They have a right to make sexy commercials of girls in bikinis eating burgers. And we have a right to let them know that we’re NOT BUYING IT, and as long as they continue to put these commercials on where our kids stumble across them, we will not be spending one dollar on their crappy, 1200 calorie burgers.
Above we see one of the less popular Hardee’s commercials….
It bothers me more for my daughters than for my son. The world tries to sexualize our kids before it’s time–our boys too, but ESPECIALLY our girls. Kids are going to encounter sexy images even without a TV. I can clearly remember lingering in the bra section of the J.C. Penny catalog as a boy, and then the jump in intensity that was the Victoria’s Secret catalog. You can’t even walk through a mall without being accosted by cleavage on all sides. There is an ocean of pornography—readily available at the touch of a phone—that all of our sons are going to need to learn to navigate. And our girls already face next-to-impossible odds of coming through adolescence with a healthy self-image…. I don’t want Hardee’s commercials subtly suggesting to my daughters their warped ideas of what it means for a girl to be “desirable.”
A while ago I wrote about considering not going to Chick-Fil-A because of their disgusting support of groups that work to take away the civil rights of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered. And as gross as that is, I think at least they are honestly confused about what the Bible says about homosexuality, and they’re trying to do the right thing…. Hardee’s is trying to do THE OPPOSITE of the right thing. I would rather shove Chick-Fil-A’s hormone-filled, MSG-soaked chicken into my gullet every Monday-Saturday from here on out than give $1 to Hardee’s while the people in charge continue to pump out these commercials.
And it’s not just these commercials…. If you subscribe to a magazine that PhotoShops their images of girls into impossibly skinny, hyper-sexual Barbie forms, you should cancel your subscription. And you should encourage your friends to do the same. And you should let the company know why you did it. If you shop and give your money to a place like Abercrombie, that sells padded bikini tops for eight year old girls, you should rightly be ashamed of yourself—I don’t care how much your kids beg. We don’t teach our children conformity. If our young daughters come to us saying, “I wish I had bigger boobs,” we don’t respond by going out and buying them padded bras or plastic surgery. We teach them that their body is lovely and perfect just the way it is…. And this is a lesson we have to start teaching very early. I will not sit in silence while images from every angle tell my kids that they are not good enough. We need to not spend money at Hardee’s, and we need to let the people in charge know WHY. If you knowingly support something that contributes to the sexualization of our young girls, or the soul-crushing, dementedly impossible expectation of what is being sold as “perfection” that destroys our daughters’ body-images with unhealthy expectations, you are an awful person. Stop it. Right now, stop it.
Now, some people might say that those companies are just giving people what they want—that if there wasn’t a market for people who liked to be sold fast food by scantily-clad actresses having oral sex with a Thickburger, those commercials wouldn’t exist. And those people might be right. Maybe the decent people ARE outnumbered…. But I don’t think it’s about being either decent or depraved…. I think it’s about calling out to the decency in all of us. Sometimes we need a reminder of our own goodness. We need someone to look at us and say, “You’re better than that.” We are better than that! We are not powerless to do anything about the shitty stuff we see all around us. And this is one place to start. Call up Hardee’s customer complaint line. Let them know that their ads might be working for some people, but that you’re NOT BUYING IT…. And that you won’t be taking one bite of their SleazeBurger (Copyright, The Boeskool) until they put an end to this degrading ad campaign, and issue a public apology for making the world seem hopelessly disgusting.
Here are some ways for you to let Hardee’s know you won’t be going there until the commercials stop: Their comment line is (877) 799-STAR (7827). They have a designated line just for comments about the commercials, but they always give you bull about “higher than average call volume,” so all I’ve been able to do there is leave a message. I doubt they want you talking to a human being about how degrading the commercials are (what a horrible job THAT would be), though I bet that if I found Paris Hilton’s IUD in my sandwich, I would be able to speak with an actual person…. You can also write an email by clicking HERE, or you can write them an actually letter and send it to the address below:
Hardee’s Restaurants LLC
100 North Broadway, Suite 1200
St. Louis, MO 63102
The only thing that effects change in a company like this (they are the 5th biggest chain behind Subway, McDonalds, Burger King and Wendy’s) is to cost them money…. That or really annoy them with public shaming, which I whole-heartedly support.
Hardee’s is owned by CKE Restaurants, and the CEO of CKE Restaurants is a man named Andrew Puzder. Andy Puzder is an outspoken critic of raising the minimum wage…. Which is understandable, because some of that wage increase would certainly come out of the $4.485 million per year he makes as CEO (at least that’s what he made in 2012). He was also an Economic Adviser and a spokesman for the Romney Campaign for President. He writes a blog that you can see HERE, but don’t expect much…. It’s not nearly as entertaining as mine. He says that Hardee’s target audience is “Young hungry guys and the women that love them.” Maybe leave him a comment or two or a hundred asking him why he feels the need to degrade women in order to sell his burgers. Ask him if it’s because of his low view of young men, or because of his low view of young women….
And last, but not least, you can take the fight to social media. If you are sick of these commercials too, share this post on Facebook. If you share it on Twitter, feel free to tag Mr. Puzder (his Twitter handle is @AndyPuzder) along with the hashtag #NotBuyingIt. Send him a message about how disappointed you are, and let him know that he’s better than that. This is not just for parents who are tired of having to quick scamper for the remote to change the channel when a Hardee’s commercial comes on…. This is for everyone. We’re better than this, people!