'Big Mac' throws Hardee's pitch

Thursday, April 15, 2004

ST. LOUIS -- Hardee's has given McDonald's something to chew on by signing Big Mac.

The St. Louis-based fast-food chain has signed former baseball slugger Mark "Big Mac" McGwire as its pitchman in a new television commercial touting Hardee's Thickburger.

The spot, which debuted Wednesday, marks the first major television advertising campaign McGwire has taken part in since he retired in 2001, three seasons after belting a then-record 70 home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals. San Francisco's Barry Bonds broke McGwire's single-season homer record in 2001, hitting 73.

The 30-second commercial, airing in Hardee's markets in 34 states, shows the beefy former player chomping into a big burger.

"They call him Big Mac, and guess what his favorite hamburger is: the Hardee's half-pound Thickburger," the announcer says. "Because some guys don't like eating a half pound of bread to get a half pound of meat."

McGwire hit 583 home runs, sixth on the all-time list. Now, Hardee's hopes that McGwire's endorsement has Thickburgers going, going, gone.

"I think almost every time I had a hamburger before a game there was a home run," McGwire joked in a statement Wednesday by Hardee's.

"We know that Mark has been thoroughly enjoying the calm and privacy of family life and fatherhood since retiring from baseball, so we are extremely pleased that he enjoys Thickburgers so much that he was willing to give his time and energy to be in an advertisement," said Andy Puzder, Hardee's president and chief executive. "McGwire's legendary status as a big hitter is a perfect match for the big size and big taste of the Hardee's Thickburger."

The Thickburger, introduced last year, is offered with one-third, one-half or two-thirds of a pound of beef, along with a low-carb cousin and versions featuring bacon or mushroom and Swiss cheese.

The commercial featuring McGwire was created by Los Angeles-based Mendelsohn Zien Advertising.

CKE Restaurants Inc., the parent company of Hardee's Food Systems Inc., operates 3,250 restaurants, including more than 2,100 Hardee's sites, 1,000 Carl's Jr. restaurants and more than 102 La Salsa Fresh Mexican Grill eateries in 44 states and 14 countries.

Hardee's also will join the Cardinals in celebrating McGwire's career in St. Louis on Mark McGwire Tribute Day, scheduled for Saturday at Busch Stadium.

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On the Net:

CKE Restaurants Inc.: http://www.ckr.com

Hardee's Food Systems: http://www.hardees.com

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