Hardee’s hadn’t updated its image. We improved the food quality, service and cleanliness of restaurants, but that wasn’t enough. People needed to feel that Hardee’s was a place for someone like them. We didn’t stop selling burgers and begin offering nuts and bark, but the restaurants took on a new image.
We embarked on an ad campaign focused on a demographic we call “young hungry guys” that anyone who aspires to be young would find appealing. This yielded positive results beyond expectation, with average annual sales per restaurant increasing more than 70% over the next decade or so.
The Republican Party faces a similar challenge. From 1968 through 1988, the GOP won the popular vote in five out of six presidential elections. But since 1992 Republicans have lost the popular vote in five out of six presidential elections. And though it is early, Hillary Clinton is already beating her Republican challengers in the polls.
Now, the Hardee’s strategy—which included running ads with swimsuit models—won’t work for Republicans, but the problem is the same. The GOP has a message of hope, individual liberty, free enterprise and opportunity that should appeal to every demographic, with immigrants and young people topping the list. Unfortunately, this message gets overshadowed by a narrative that Republicans are archaic and insensitive.