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You don't kill the funny - an editorial sandwich with heavy rant sauce.

ADLAND EXCLUSIVE ADRANT: Hardee's Tries on Gorgeous New Set of Cliff Freeman Ruby Slippers. Clicks Heels Two Times. Shoots Self in Foot.

Once again, the corporate chowderheads at Hardee's prove themselves a few fries short of a Happy Meal. Refusing to believe that you can't please all of the people all of the time, did these nincompoops really go so far as take Cliff Freeman and Partners' spiffy first spot for their new campaign and leech out its most important flavor?

This much we do know: We have the original spot as it ran for two weeks, and also its bastardized version with a completely reedited ending. We also have much speculation...

It should go without saying that if you want to enjoy a savory roast beef entré, you don't follow this recipe:

1) Rub the roast well with extra virgin olive oil and freshly ground black pepper.

2) Place on a rack in a roasting pan and roast in a 350 F. oven for 45-50 minutes. Brush with oil occasionally, if necessary.

3) Salt the roast and let it rest for 10 minutes.

4) Remove to a hot platter and blaze with heated cognac.

5) Throw it into a 120 qt. stockpot filled with old dishwater and boil the crap out of it for two weeks.

Well, it appears that CKE Restaurants (the money dudes that took over Hardee's in 1997) likes to apply this recipe's illogical methodology to its business strategy. Since 1998, CKE's stock value had dropped like a cow pushed out of a cargo plane at 41,000 ft (Source: NYSE charts - CKR on your online day-tradin' ticker), but things appeared to stabilize and climb after they chose Cliff Freeman and Partners as their latest ad agency.

Cliff Freeman and Partners, the fine folks who spun pure gold for Wendy's Restaurants and later for Little Caesars Pizza (until the LC board underwent a group prefrontal lobotomy), was an excellent and surprisingly wise choice. If anyone was going to turn Hardee's around, it was these guys.

Then at the end of February, the first new Hardee's spot hit the airwaves. I liked it. No, I dug it. I recognized its possible source of inspiration and applauded. I even wrote it up and posted it here, in AdLand. It was Cliff Freeman funny and completely on target. "Can't wait to see the rest of 'em," I eagerly thought.

Then this weekend, the unthinkable happened - the spot was reedited. Heavily. A completely different ending. Looked like rejected footage from the cutting room floor. Augh! The footage wasn't shot at the proper framerate for slomo. Augh! The intonation of the actor delivering the tag at the very end of the spot no longer makes any plausible sense. Augh!

Did I mention "Augh!"?

Hey, judge for yourself...

Hardee's Track Commercial

* Note - this is missing (
Click here for the bastardized spot.


Augh! They killed the funny! How the Hell could they kill the funny!? What the Hell happened here!? At this point I can only speculate. And I will.

What the Hell Happened

1) The Sunny Day Theory: Cliff Freeman and Partners is setting us up for a future third edit that will prove to be even better than the original.

2) The Caesarian Theory: The dipshits from Little Caesars Pizza all got canned and are somehow now on the Hardee's board.

3) The Uncomfortable Account Executive Theory: Self explanatory.

4) The Two Little Old Ladies from Hastings Theory: The Hardee's switchboard received a call from a couple of bitter old biddies who have never eaten at Hardee's before, but were offended that Hardee's sells food that they can't eat any more because they absent-mindedly misplaced their dentures somewhere in the church on Bingo Night. Threatening never to eat at Hardee's again, they succeeded in scaring the bejeezus out of the higher ups.

5) The Fat Cat on the Board Theory: There's a chunky, lumpy suit on the Hardee's board who was insulted with the prospect that a "husky" teen would have difficulty in clearing a hurdle whilst singing about roast beef sandwiches. After all, this suit has often waxed nostalgic with his fellow board members about his glory days as a track and field champion before he developed his current hormonal imbalance and unavoidable thirty Big Roast Beef a day habit.

6) The Overly Sensitive Theory: The Coalition for Responsible Television voted unanimously that the actions of tripping and falling down are much too violent to be seen by their impressionable young children. Why, if such carnage was left unabated, the members of the Coalition might just have to spend quality time with their children instead of letting the television act as their babysitter! Heaven forbid!

7) The Slanted Focus Group Theory: Decision was based upon erroneous conclusions from post-production focus group session secretly planted with moles from rival Burger Doodle chain.

8) The Apocalypse Theory: It's the end of the world as we know it.

Like I said before, this is all speculation. Speculation, but many of us have seen this sort of travesty happen before. We can only hope that Cliff Freeman can talk some sense into Hardee's before this happens again. Cliff Freeman has himself one helluva groovy cadre of creatives, and I hate to see him and them unjustly tainted by a board of boobs.

Conclusion: If you're going to sell somebody a yummy roast beef sandwich, you had better make damn sure that it has some roast beef in it. And if you want a commercial by Cliff Freeman to do what it was created to do, you don't kill the funny.

You don't kill the funny.

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