Carl's Jr Promo, Case study CARL'S JR YOUTUBE CAMPAIGN by Initiative

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Industry Fast food
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market United States
Agency Initiative
Released March 2009

Credits & Description

Category: Retail and E-Commerce, including Restaurants
Advertiser: CARL'S JR
Date of First Appearance: Mar 6 2009 12:00AM
Entrant Company: INITIATIVE , New York, USA
Entry URL:
Media Manager: Phil Hruska (Carl's Jr.)
Group Account Director: Robert Holtkamp (Initiative)
Senior Digital Planner: Talia Arnold (Initiative)
Senior Vice President/Director Innovations: Dave Rosner (Initiative)
Manager Innovations: Neil Hamel (Initiative)
Media placement: Digital - YouTube - 03/05/2009

Results and Effectiveness
Video views on Carl’s Jr. YouTube channel increased 12x 90,000+ positive video ratings, averaging 4.7 out of 5 stars 7 of the top 18 “Most Watched” YouTube videos at the same time - a feat not topped by another brand before or since 11 million YouTube video views, and counting Doubled the average per store sales of Portobello Mushroom burgers At noon on June 3rd, the campaign launched on YouTube. Their servers promptly crashed and were down for half an hour. Coincidence? Maybe.

Creative Execution
We partnered with YouTube to create a media first, a totally new kind of network buy. We challenged nine of YouTube’s most popular stars —many with upwards of 1 million subscribers—to show us how they eat their $6 Portobello Mushroom Burgers from Carl’s Jr. These stars included Smosh, NigaHiga, iJustine, DaveDays, sxephil, HotForWords, Alphacat, SMPfilms, and WasteTimeChasingCars. Each was independently contracted to create an “In Their Own Words” version of their unique burger eating experience. The films were launched simultaneously with redirections to Carl’s Jr.’s YouTube channel. We further drove subscriptions to through a media buy, hyper-targeted to males in Carl’s Jr.’s region. A press campaign with YouTube’s parent, Google, helped boost awareness and promote chatter across a wide range of social networking sites.

Insights, Strategy & the Idea
In 2009, Carl’s Jr. planned to release their $6 Portobello Mushroom Burger – a premium product in a category largely driven by dollar menus. Competitively outspent 9 to 1, our challenge was to drive business quickly and cheaply. We identified three key online behaviors of our hungry young male target: high video consumption, extensive social/viral activity and a love of comedic content. Additionally, our research showed that consumers were eating the burger in very individualised ways. They wanted to get all the flavors into each bite, and everyone’s tactics were different. Our Strategy: Position the Portobello Mushroom Burger as an intensely unique eating experience. Our Idea: Recruit nine of YouTube’s biggest stars to make videos for the Portobello Mushroom Burger. Not only were we the first to do this, but we also solved the problem of how to effectively reach mass audiences on YouTube and display product benefits prominently.