This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," March 9, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, well, sex sells in any economy, though, right? My next guest says, you bet. He has got the numbers to prove it.
The new face of his brand Hardee's is that gorgeous model and reality TV star, Padma.
CKE Restaurants CEO Andrew Puzder joins me right now.
ANDREW PUZDER, PRESIDENT & CEO, CKE RESTAURANTS: Hey, Neil.
CAVUTO: You and hot models, what is the...
PUZDER: Well, as you said, sex sells. I'm really disappointed about the cleavage-being-out thing. I was...
CAVUTO: Careful. It's a family show.
CAVUTO: Well, you were the first to sort of think — draw a link between — and it was weird, but you would have Paris Hilton essentially selling a burger.
CAVUTO: And it worked. It worked.
PUZDER: Well, you need to get the attention of young hungry guys.
CAVUTO: And they are your core customers.
PUZDER: They are our core customers. And it — like I say, it is an aspirational model. I'm 58. And you may — you may be a little bit out of this group — but that 17 to 34 year-old group is the group you want. But, you know, I'm 58. I want to be 17 to 34...
CAVUTO: Do they draw that connection, oh, this is — I have got to go here because Paris Hilton, and now this supermodel, they — that they do ads for this company?
PUZDER: Well, it is a brand image. You are not only trying to sell your product. But you're trying to sell who you are as a restaurant chain.
When people come into the restaurant, a lot of the reaction to the food is what you think about the chain when you walk in.
PUZDER: And, so, it is important for us to portray ourselves as a brand that is consistent with the quality food we serve and the image we want to portray.
CAVUTO: But weren't you getting all these women's groups jumping ugly with you, and saying, hey, that's patronizing and quit talking about our buns to sell buns, that kind of stuff?
PUZDER: Well, there are things we won't do. We won't go too far.
But the things we have been doing, when they complain, it actually does not seem to drive business down in particular. It just seems to generate more publicity.
CAVUTO: More publicity.
PUZDER: Like this Paris Hilton ad, I mean, this is — this ad is, what, four years old. You still see it on TV. They run it on the E! Channel. And it is probably on the show right now while we're talking.
CAVUTO: No. No. Well, now it is.
CAVUTO: All right. So, you don't do a lot of things your competitors do — like the dollar, the value meals, not that your stuff is expensive, by any measure. They're all similarly priced. But you never did that. Why?
PUZDER: Well, if everybody is doing 99 cents, you know, that is not something I can succeed at. I want to do something we're going to succeed at. And I don't want to serve food that I won't eat. And a lot of the — I mean, 99 cents, I mean, what can you make for 99 — go the grocery store. Buy the...
CAVUTO: And you kind of stick to your niche, right? I mean, you...
CAVUTO: So you have not gone the full, like, carrots and romaine lettuce...
PUZDER: Well, we have healthy — we do have healthy products. We were the first ones with salad bars. We have a four-grams-of-fat chicken sandwich.
They just don't sell very much. We're happy to sell them, but they don't sell...
CAVUTO: So, the guys who are drawn to these ads, what are they buying?
PUZDER: Oh, six dollar burgers, Famous Stars, Superstars, Western Bacon.
PUZDER: Padma loves the Western Bacon Cheeseburger. That — the reason we got her for the ad...
CAVUTO: She does? Really?
CAVUTO: She is not, like, vomiting it out after she's done?
PUZDER: I will tell you, before — before we had her signed up, she wrote in one of her cookbooks how she went — as a child — she would go and eat a Western Bacon cheeseburger, and loved it.
CAVUTO: Oh. And then you said, ka-ching.
PUZDER: We said, hey, this — this sounds good.
CAVUTO: Well, Andy, good luck to you. It is interesting. You don't follow the crowd, but you're — you're — you're doing OK.
PUZDER: Thanks, Neil. Good to see you, too.
CAVUTO: Good to see you. All right.
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