This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," June 7, 2005, that was edited for clarity.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: The response was explosive, Paris Hilton (search) showing her buns to sell, well, their buns, Carl's Jr. buns, that is. Now, some say it went too far, but not my next guest, who says it's all about the sales.
With us now, Andrew Puzder. He is the president and CEO of CKE Restaurants, that owns Carl's Jr (search).
All right, here's my theory this. You're a genius. You planned it all that way.
ANDREW PUZDER, PRESIDENT & CEO, CKE RESTAURANTS: I wish that were true, but it really has been far more explosive than anything we thought would come out of this.
CAVUTO: Did you see any pickup in sales as a result?
PUZDER: Well, we can't say. We will release sales on June 27 or 28. Until we do that, I obviously can't comment on it.
But we have an Internet site for this SpicyParis.com. I think it was the No. 1 site in the country last week, it had the largest number of hits. I think the French Open was No. 2 — it got like 3.5 million. It was incredible.
PUZDER: The response has been fantastic.
CAVUTO: Now, obviously, this was geared to young men.
CAVUTO: And so young men would have to come into your stores to order burgers. Did they say, I want that Paris Hilton burger?
PUZDER: We do have people coming into the store and saying, I want the burger from the Paris Hilton ad. That's anecdotal. That's what the guys are telling you.
CAVUTO: I hear you, Andrew. And I know, in the Sarbanes-Oxley world, you have to be very careful, so I can appreciate that. And I heard both those guys love Paris Hilton.
CAVUTO: But that's a whole other issue.
But let me ask you about what you think this means for other companies looking to get some controversy. You knew, I think, that this would generate buzz. You knew that shows would cover this, my own included, didn't you?
PUZDER: Well, we knew it would be provocative. We knew we would get on shows like "Entertainment Tonight" and the E! Channel. I didn't realize the kind of real news shows we would get on. But it's huge.
CAVUTO: So, when someone showed you this spot, all right, here's Paris Hilton slipping around next to nothing with a burger...
CAVUTO: You knew that this would generate a response.
PUZDER: We did, absolutely.
PUZDER: Not as much of a response as it did. But we did know there would be.
CAVUTO: How much did she get for this spot?
PUZDER: We haven't make that public.
CAVUTO: Come on. Tell me.
PUZDER: I can't tell you. If I tell you, they'll arrest both of us.
CAVUTO: Over $1 million?
PUZDER: We're spending $4 million to $5 million to air it, the media budget. But she didn't get anywhere near that.
CAVUTO: OK. She didn't need the dough, by the way, so why did she do it?
PUZDER: No. She got a good amount.
CAVUTO: She did, really?
PUZDER: She's a smart businesswoman. Remember Jayne Mansfield with the 125 I.Q. who played the dumb blonde?
PUZDER: Paris Hilton is not only beautiful and not only an heiress, but she's a very smart cookie.
CAVUTO: Are you going to use her again? Are you doing a follow-up ad?
PUZDER: We would consider using her again. You know, we have used other celebrities.
CAVUTO: Has she said, sign me up?
PUZDER: You know, I don't even know if we've talked to her about it. I've never met her, so I can't tell you.
CAVUTO: Really? You're the big cheese. You never met Paris? You weren't even there for the ad shooting and all?
PUZDER: This is going to sound terrible. I was supposed to go. I got the flu.
CAVUTO: What a nut.
CAVUTO: All right, so you missed out on the big...
PUZDER: I tried. Yes.
CAVUTO: Man, oh, man. You're the boss.
CAVUTO: But, you know, you have heard from the parents groups and others who say that this is a horrible thing for a restaurant to do, sends the wrong signal to the people you're trying to reach who aren't young males, that young women, that older women, who might say, I'm not going to go to Carl's Jr., period.
PUZDER: You know, my response to that is, this is an ad with a beautiful model in a one-piece bathing suit washing a car and eating a burger. There's no sex acts. There's no nudity.
CAVUTO: Oh, come on. There's no sex acts? You don't have to see "Blue Lagoon" to know that you have got something close, right?
PUZDER: I think it's sensual and provocative.
PUZDER: And sensual and provocative may offend some people, and I'm sorry about that. But it's very appealing to our target market. I think these people have every right to protest, every right to be offended.
CAVUTO: Did anyone in your family say, Andrew, you've gone too far?
PUZDER: No. Actually, I ran these all by my wife. And she loved the ad.
CAVUTO: She did like it?
PUZDER: You know, I've had a very positive response from a lot of people. We have got a lot of complaints. There's a Web site to make complaints and the whole deal. But we've got a lot of complaints.
CAVUTO: Do you give those people free burgers or no? Are they getting any coupons, fries?
PUZDER: You know, I don't know what response they're getting. But I'll tell you, one of the big questions has been, where can we buy the swimsuit?
CAVUTO: All right. Well, Andrew, you're crazy like a fox, Andrew Puzder, the president and CEO of CKE Restaurants. And we'll know soon enough what it all spelled out.
PUZDER: Thanks, Neil.
CAVUTO: And, by the way, he cannot say what those numbers are.
CAVUTO: Legally, he's bound to not say that.
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