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Carl's Jr.'s New Foot-Long Cheeseburger: Gross, But a Useful Marketing Tool

It's a gut-bombing triple cheeseburger dressed up as a foot-long hoagie. It's probably got nearly 1,400 calories -- nutrition information isn't out yet. But Carl's Jr's new Foot Long Cheeseburger, which the chain is currently testing in a couple of southern California stores, is also a savvy marketing ploy that could vault the chain into the middle of the gross-out food wars and get it some much-needed buzz. Let's face it, it's the summer of mega-food. First KFC's bunless Double Down gave us fried chicken with a burger in the middle, then it was Friendly's Ultimate Grilled Cheese Burger Melt, which put a burger between two grilled-cheese sandwiches. Just to stay in the conversation, Carl's needed to come up with something eye-catching that would get people talking.

The Foot Long has less shock value as it's not a twisted, mutant form of fast food like the KFC and Friendly's entrants -- it's clearly just three cheeseburgers on a long bun. But at $4 to $4.50, it's a pretty affordable big meal, or a really cheap, more modest meal for two or three friends who want to split it. It at least gets Carl's in the game with an attention-getting new product. The company has clung to its $6 gourmet hamburgers for too long, and needed to shake things up with some better values.

For Carl's, the Foot Long is a move-buster. Quick, think of the last time Carl's introduced a product that was a huge popular hit and everyone was talking about it. Yeah. They need this.

This week, Carl's Jr and Hardee's parent CKE Restaurants closed its going-private sale deal with new owner Apollo Management. Recently, sales have trended down for Carl's. Judging from the smash success of Double Down, the Foot Long could be big -- and get the chain off on the right foot with its new owners by getting sales growing again.

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