Fans gather around televisions with cold beer and hot wings on Super Bowl Sunday for any number of reasons -- the game (this Sunday's is between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons), the halftime show (this year's show stars Lady Gaga), or the commercials. From Budweiser's heartfelt Clydesdales and lost puppy ad to eTrade's hilarious tech-savvy baby to Snickers's now-infamous Betty White ad, humor, heart, and celebrity are staples of the Super Bowl commercial, but so is another ingredient -- sex. And objectifying women through salacious advertising, particularly in Super Bowl ads aimed at a "hungry" male audience, is something Donald Trump's Labor Secretary pick, Andy Puzder, has mastered.
CEO of CKE Restaurant Holdings Inc., which owns Carl's Jr. and Hardee's, Puzder (tapped for secretary of Labor in early December but not yet confirmed) helped create the culture at his company, which produces commercials that typically feature half-naked women writhing around with burger fixings dripping from their mouths and down their faces.
But Carl's Jr's ads depict skinny, sexy women stuffing oversized, loaded buns into their mouths not because women are hungry for messy burgers, but because Puxder thinks men are. And Puzder's strategy for enticing young men to eat his burgers is to turn the act into metaphoric porn at the expense of the women everywhere.
"It's an appeal to youth, so it really reaches a broad demographic," Puzder told Entrepreneurin 2015. "My son's now 17, but when he was 13 he didn't want to eat at 'the king' [or] 'the clown,' he wanted to eat where his brother ate, so he wanted to be a young hungry guy. I'm 64, I want to be a young hungry guy. Some young ladies in your age group like to date young hungry guys."
While there's no new Super Bowl ad for this year's game, Puzder gave that interview about "hungry guys" after he and Carl's Jr. made headlines during the 2015 Super Bowl season for an ad promoting the All Natural Burger. The commercial featured model and actress Charlotte McKinney, who is naturally buxom, strolling nude through a farmers' market as jaw-dropping men held on to their French loaves, shaved their ice, and shot spurts of water from a hose. If that's not enough imagery to get the point across, the commercial compares McKinney's backside to a bulbous cleft tomato and her breasts to the hackneyed image of giant melons on a scale.
But 2015 was not the first year Puzder and company made waves at the Super Bowl. While the company kicked off the overtly sexy campaign back in 2005 with an ad featuring Paris Hilton hosing down a Bentley, it took the ads a few years to reach the voracious, hypermasculine Super Bowl audience of Puzder's dreams. In 2013, an ad for the Southwest Patty Melt had Sports Illustrated swimsuit model and actress Kate Upton tonguing a jalapeno before stripping down to, essentially, lingerie, then dabbing sweat from her bosom and spreading her legs in the back of her vintage car at a drive-in movie theater. In case those visuals were too subtle for the audience, she then crawls to the front of her car to cool down by sucking on the straw from her icy beverage.
The fact that Puzder's raunchy Carl's Jr. commercials have often been banned before the big game also doesn't affect him, as once they're banned, the controversy surrounding them sends fans clamoring to YouTube to watch them there. Make a filthy commercial, call it a Super Bowl commercial, and it's a recipe for instant success born off the bodies of women. At any rate, Puzder gets publicity.
Take, for instance, the commercial for the Big Sausage Breakfast Sandwich. It never aired at the Super Bowl, but its depiction of a woman in booty shorts sucking on a giant sausage while slapping her own behind could not send a clearer message. Although, for those for whom the intent of the commercial was vague, a plop of (presumably) mayonnaise squeezes out of the bun, past the oversized phallus of a sausage, and onto her half-naked, heaving breast.
Search banned Super Bowl commercials on YouTube and several compilations, featuring at least a couple of Carl's Jr. ads, pop up, and the millions of views any one of these banned ads has proves Puzder right.
Women are representing more and more of Super Bowl viewership. Women have consistently made up 45 percent to 47 percent of the big game's viewing audience between 2011 and 2016, according to a graph put together by Nielsen, the TV ratings company. But Puzder's methodology for increasing sales -- appealing to "hungry guys" -- isn't concerned about offending or objectifying nearly half of the event's viewers as long as he reaches a chunk of the 53 percent of male viewers. In fact, offending the audience is part of his strategy.
"If you don't complain, I go to the head of marketing and say, 'What's wrong with our ads?'" he told Entrepreneur.