A burger ad featuring a scantily clad Paris Hilton (search) isn't "too hot," said a Carl's Jr. executive. Rather, he said, the critics of the ad just might be "too old."
"There seems to be sort of a generational gap in the reaction to this ad," said Brad Haley (search), the company's executive vice president of marketing.
In an appearance on "Your World With Neil Cavuto" on Wednesday, Haley seemed nothing but pleased with the attention the ad has gotten.
"Young people have sent us many e-mails and called saying this is the best ad they have ever seen," Haley said.
The ad in question features the hotel heiress-turned-online porn star-turned-reality TV star in a revealing black bathing suit soaping up both a Bentley and herself and doing suggestive things with a water hose. The 30-second spot ends with Hilton's signature line: "That's hot."
But watchdog groups like the Parents Television Council (search) say the ad is much too hot for prime time.
"People ... are choosing to take their business elsewhere because they are so [disgusted] with this commercial," PTC's Melissa Caldwell told FOX News' Bill O'Reilly on "The O'Reilly Factor."
"This blatant sexually charged ad has no place on the public airwaves, and especially when children are in the audience. Carl's Jr./Hardees need to be held responsible for marketing their raunchy, sexually graphic ad to millions of children via broadcast television and at the Carl's Jr./Hardees' web sites without any restrictions," the PTC said in a press release.
The PTC is contemplating taking their beef with the ad to the Federal Communications Commission. Carl's Jr. and Hardees are both operated by CKE Restaurants (CKR).
"Paris goes down to the corner to get a carton of milk and it makes the news. So we knew this would get attention ... it has definitely exceeded our expectations," Haley said.
Haley told FOX News the company intended to target young men, saying they "drive" the fast food industry. But he saw an appeal to young women as well.
Hilton "is an amazing figure in terms of her interest value, not only to young guys but among young women as well, who see her as a style-setter," Haley said.
Though the West Coast-based fast food company's logo is a kid-friendly, smiley-faced star, in recent years it has targeted "motorcycle-driving, beer-drinking men between 24 and 30," said Ad Week's Barbara Lippert.
"If you need to get someone to get on their hands and knees and eat a Whopper, she is the Einstein of gorging on all fours," Lippert said Monday on "The O'Reilly Factor." "This particular skill set plays very well with her — if it's soaping, licking, you've got her strong suits."
As offensive as the ad may be to more discerning consumers, Lippert said the ad was a win-win: for the company, which has gone after the Maxim lad-mag market, and for Hilton, who seems to want to hold onto her unconventionally earned fame.
"What they're doing is... as semi-pornographic as they possibly can. And I think if you saw Paris Hilton in other commercials, she's just an annoying, B-list celebrity. And it's unbearable to listen to her talk.
"Here, at least, they don't have her say a word," Lippert said.