Carl's Jr., Hardee's parent CKE orders up LaForce as PR AOR

The firm is working to give each fast-food brand its own storyline.

FRANKLIN, TN: CKE Restaurants, owner of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, has selected LaForce as its PR AOR.

LaForce will conceive and produce all consumer-media-facing communications strategies for both brands, including brand storytelling, new menu items and location openings. The firm will also spearhead corporate communication programs comprised of executive and leadership strategies, media relations, and CSR, according to a statement. 

"LaForce has been tasked with bringing to life the brand voice and values of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s in an unexpected way through the PR programs they build," said Blake Simpson, CKE VP of public affairs and communications, via email.

The agency has helped to launch a range of products including Carl’s Jr. El Diablo Thickburger, Hardee’s Hot Chicken Sandwich, and, across both brands, All Day Sliders.

CKE brought on LaForce in May, following an RFP process, said James LaForce, the firm’s president and founder, who described the work as "an ongoing repositioning around quality, service, and innovation."

LaForce SVP Olita Mills is leading a team of 10 on the account. She will work closely with Havas Worldwide, which landed creative AOR duties for CKE following a competitive review in February. Incumbent 72andSunny had held the account for more than six years.

"We are treating each brand, Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, as their own and pitching and working with media to give each brand its own storyline," said Mills.

Previously PR, creative work, and products were "merged" for Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, so it was harder to distinguish between the two brands, she said.

Budget information was not disclosed.

Edelman, the incumbent on the account, is continuing to work with CKE on crisis comms.

Simpson explained via email that the company decided to bring on a PR agency that could build and promote each brand individually. She said CKE has also "added a number of new executives to the leadership team across a majority of [its] functions."

Last August, CKE CMO Brad Haley exited to join IHOP Restaurants as SVP and CMO, where he gave the go-ahead to temporarily change IHOP’s name to IHOb this year. Since 2004, Haley had been CMO of CKE Restaurants.

CKE named Jeff Jenkins as its CMO in June 2017.

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