Nearly one month after Andrew Puzder—the highly polarizing CEO of CKE Restaurant, parent company of Carl's Jr., Hardee's, Green Burrito, and Red Burrito—withdrew his nomination to be the Trump administration's labor secretary following criticism of his business record and his personal life, Puzder decided it was time to let the world know that sexism quite literally saved his entire company.
During his first interview since withdrawing his nomination back in February, Puzder told FOX Business Network's Neil Cavuto that Carl's Jr.'s infamously raunchy advertising—which features scantily clad celebrities like Paris Hilton eating Carl's Jr. burgers in ridiculous poses—is not only inoffensive, but is actually responsible for saving the company from financial ruin.
"Well, 46 percent of our consumers are women. I don't think all women found these ads demeaning; certainly the women in the ads didn't," stated Puzder. "I've been CEO for 16 years. When I took over, our company was on the verge of bankruptcy; we almost didn't have a company, so I approved a lot of marketing techniques to engage consumers and it was a very competitive media market and we've got a company about to collapse."
Puzder went on to say, "We prevented it from collapsing. A big part of that was the way we advertised the brand. We got the attention of this demographic, young hungry guys, which was what our marketing and research department advised us to do." To the naysayers, Puzder has this to say: "I'm sorry that they feel that way, but we saved the company with those ads, we saved a lot of jobs."
MUNCHIES reached out to CKE Restaurants for comment on Puzder's assertion, but has yet to hear back.
That Puzder believes in his ads shouldn't surprise anyone—he's expressed similar sentiments before. During the nomination process, Puzder faced criticism for a 2015 interview wherein he stated: "I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it's very American. I used to hear, brands take on the personality of the CEO. And I rarely thought that was true, but I think this one, in this case, it kind of did take on my personality."
When the interviewer asked Puzder if he planned to continue with the same approach for future advertising campaigns, Puzder responded, "We actually changed ad campaigns end of last summer before all of this started. We've gone to a new campaign."
What is surprising, though, is that Puzder would reprise his praise of the sexy ads now, given that many attributed the failure of his nomination directly to allegations that Puzder had been less than respectful to women—namely, his ex-wife. In addition to criticism about some of the labor practices and conditions at his restaurants, Puzder's hopes of becoming our next labor secretary went downhill as soon as records from Puzder's 1988 divorce—during which his wife made domestic abuse allegations—were publicly circulated. Then, several senators on both sides of the aisle had concerns about a video from an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show entitled "High-Class Battered Women" featuring Puzder's ex-wife, and that was that. Not even the fact that Puzder's wife's later recanted the allegations could save Puzder's nomination.
Do women in bikinis sell burgers? Maybe. But sometimes, that's not enough.