Sister brands Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s have partnered with Universal Pictures to commemorate the June 10 opening of "Jurassic World Dominion," the conclusion to the epic film series that began with 1993's "Jurassic Park." To promote their movie-inspired Primal Menu — which includes a plant-based Beyond Wraptor Burger and an Amber BBQ Sauce that pays tribute to the DNA-containing amber resin of the first film — the brands have launched a marketing campaign that spans multiple digital platforms as it seeks to engage with consumers.
"There are so many avenues and so many ways that consumers interact now with different brands, and I think the power really comes from listening to those consumers and ensuring that your offerings and the way in which you are approaching the relationship with your guests is what's most meaningful to them," said Chad Crawford, chief brand officer for parent company CKE Restaurants.
To that end, the Carl's Jr. and Hardee's campaign will include co-branded creative, custom rich media via Yahoo and Kargo, a branded digital game in Uber and Lyft via Octopus, an augmented reality (AR) lens on Snapchat, and other content on TikTok, Waze and gas station video network GSTV, depending on region.
Crawford, who has served as chief brand officer at CKE Restaurants for nearly three years after stints at Popeyes and Burger King, detailed the company's approach to digital channels, how it seeks to get closer to culture and how a recently reported $500 million brand transformation will affect marketing.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
MARKETING DIVE: How did the Carl's Jr. and Hardee's partnership with Universal come together?
CHAD CRAWFORD: We had the opportunity to partner with Universal and it really felt like a great way to celebrate not only the release of "Jurassic World Dominion," but living in that world of indulgence and that primal hunger gave us and our culinary team an amazing platform to build some some world class products.
What was the approach to the campaign around the Primal Menu?
CRAWFORD: As we think about the media campaign, driving awareness, reach and impact in a traditional manner is always critically important, but we also felt that the passion for both Carl's Jr. and Hardee's, as well as the passion for the property of "Jurassic World," was really suited for a full 360-degree approach because we knew that our guests and fans of the movie would have an opportunity to be highly engaged, not just in the properties and our product offerings, but also in ways to have fun.
We tapped partners like Snapchat, Uber, Lyft and more to create some pretty immersive experiences. We have the TV commercial, streaming video and other other traditional channels, but we wanted to meet our guests where they are in the digital space. A movie like this or a QSR is meant to take you away and have a good time, so we wanted to transport our guests into an interactive place like the film.
What will those digital elements look like?
CRAWFORD: We are working with Snapchat on a fun augmented reality lens where consumers are going to be able to see dinosaurs in the world with them. That's really fun, because the movie centers on dinosaurs being in the world, in everyday life, with us. We also have a branded digital gaming experience within Uber and Lyft for riders to enjoy via Octopus. It's a fun way not just to visualize the great products, but to immerse themselves in the "Jurassic World" opportunity and see more of it.
We tried to build out a host of interactive points, and then we also have opportunity within our own channels, on our apps and our loyalty programs to encourage some specific offers and rewards related to these menu items.
Engaging with consumer culture is an imperative of many brands, especially in the QSR space. How does this campaign do that?
CRAWFORD: Whether it's a brand like ours or even a franchise brand like "Jurassic World," consumers are looking for that authenticity and connectivity. When you can bring something to life in a multichannel experience, you can really extend that world for consumers and it is absolutely what they're looking for. When we look for partnerships like this one, we want to make sure that it brings those things to life and it's not just an afterthought.
CKE Restaurants recently announced a plan to spend $500 million to transform its brands. How will this affect marketing?
CRAWFORD: It's [about] understanding what and how the consumers want to interact with the brand. As we think about transformation, upgrading assets and building in additional digital ecosystems and touch points within the restaurant are a critical part of it.
But as we think about transforming long term, what's going to be most important is the fact that we now have our app-enabled ordering and our loyalty programs. It furthers our ability to listen to and understand what our guests want, how they're choosing to interact with the brands and really learn more about the things they're looking for near-, mid- and long-term.
Those transformation efforts are certainly commencing, but they will be iterative over time, as we learn from those guests, listen to what they're saying, and ultimately refine our menu and how we're offering it, our facilities and our service modes.
I think what's most important in the world today about interacting with guests is their brand affinity, and understanding why and how you are important as part of their lives, and adapting to make it easier and delivering on what the brand promises.