The controversial ad sparked a backlash from the PTC when CKE Restaurant's Carl's Jr. chain announced plans to air the second half of the campaign in the Midwest and Southeast, this time advertising the Spicy BBQ Thickburger for the company's St. Louis-based Hardee's chain.
The commercial's initial airing began in the West Coast and caught immediate mass media attention for its racy and suggestive overtones. Almost overnight, issues surrounding free speech and the commercialization of pornography became hot topics of discussion.
CKE patently denied that the commercial was intended to be pornographic and said that it intentionally chose Hilton because of her reputation as an heiress, actress and model. However, Hilton is best known for her starring role in a celebrity sex tape along with former boyfriend Rick Solomon.
CKE even launched an accompanying website for the commercial, SpicyParis.com, which crashed within days of the commercial's airing from overuse.
But the PTC and other family groups have lobbied aggressively to have the 30-second spot taken off the air.
"Our group's position is that this company [CKE] ought to be ashamed of itself," Brent Bozel, a representative for PTC, said.
Backing its protest, the PTC has launched a website featuring a complaint form letter addressed to CKE. The PTC claims on its website that CKE is currently blocking emails sent from the complaint site and that protesters need to email the letter back to themselves and change the wording in the subject line before mailing it to CEO Andy Puzder at CKE's corporate headquarters in Carpinteria, Calif.
The PTC letter states that CKE has "explicitly defended adult erotica sex-play" by featuring Hilton, all in an attempt to profit from the sale of hamburgers.
On a separate occasion, Puzder said of those who find the commercial offensive, "Get a life."
The PTC responded by saying, "I suggest, Mr. Puzder, that you need to get a conscience. If you want to have any hope of any member of my family ever being a customer of Carl's Jr. or Hardee's, Mr. Puzder – take this commercial off the air immediately."
CKE has not yet released results on the success of the ad campaign, which will begin airing outside the West Coast the week of June 27 at 9 p.m.