Carl's Jr., the fast food chain that once used sexy ads to sell burgers, says it's now trying to seduce Amazon one tweet at a time.
Starting at 3 a.m. ET Monday, the Franklin, Tenn.-based sandwich brand will tweet a "billion dollar'' idea once an hour for 24 hours to try and grab the e-commerce titan's attention.
"This is about generating a conversation around a partnership,'' Jeff Jenkins, Chief Marketing Officer, Carl's Jr. and Hardee's, said in an exclusive interview with USA TODAY. "The tweets are obviously a start to try and see where the dialogue goes …have a lot of fun with it, and see if they find the spirit of it as fun as we do.''
The pitches will include the "Eater Reader,'' a food tray that can also cradle Amazon's Kindle tablet allowing the diner to read and eat the same time, and "Prime Thru," an express drive through lane just for Amazon's fee-paying Prime members.
The fast food chain, which debuted $5 "All Star Meals" in a box last month, says it also sees symmetry with Amazon's ubiquitous brown packages left at customers' front doors.
"You have boxes, we have boxes,'' Jenkins says of the message. "We think there's magic here.''
Amazon is being courted by many suitors. Cities are competing to become home to the online retailer's second headquarters, HQ2, which will bring as many as 50,000 new jobs, and inject billions of dollars into the local economy.
The Carl's Jr. tweet storm is keeping in line with the unconventional marketing that was the sandwich chain's signature for years as it ran ads featuring scantily clad women suggestively eating juicy burgers.
The company dropped that marketing strategy in the spring to shift the spotlight to the quality of its charbroiled burgers and other menu items. The sandwich brand has been facing increasing competition from such rivals as Five Guys and Panera Bread, which emphasize their healthier ingredients.
Carl's Jr. even launched a TV ad campaign that made fun of its suggestive marketing. But Jenkins says the company still believes it has to be creative to generate buzz.
"We've got to be impossible to ignore,'' he says. "Both Carls Jr. and (sister brand) Hardee's have a history of provocative advertising ... The question is how do you modernize that.''
Beyond the initial 24 hours, Carl's Jr. will continue aiming mock presentations and proposals at Amazon via twitter all week.
Whether the tweeted pitches - like the "Tender Button'' to get a chicken tender delivered to your door - ever see the light of day remains to be seen.
"Some of the ideas are closer to home (to what) we could execute, but some are obviously pushing the envelope,'' Jenkins says. Still "people always overestimate what could happen in two years, and underestimate what will happen in ten.''
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