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Carl's Jr. ads featuring female models and celebrities chowing down on burgers (and the occasional salad) courted controversy for years.
In 2017, the chain officially abandoned the long-running campaign but its latest commercial will be eerily familiar to anyone who remembers Paris Hilton's car-washing, burger-eating antics.
On Monday, the chain launched a new commercial featuring Australian comedian, actor, writer and mom Celeste Barber. Barber, who has 5 million Instagram followers, devotes her account to recreating photos of models and famous people (who are often wearing next to nothing) to promote more realistic beauty standards.
The new campaign, according to Carl's Jr., will roll out in a series of ads across TV and social media platforms. It will also feature other stars, like singer/songwriter Ashlee Simpson-Ross and Matthew McConaughey, who voiced an ad for the chain's bacon cheeseburger earlier this year.
Carl's Jr. first turned heads in 2005 with its commercial of hotel heiress and famed party girl Paris Hilton washing a Bentley in a bikini while biting into a large, juicy burger (never mind that those two activities really shouldn't be done together) and, at the time, the spot was credited with helping the burger brand compete with bigger chains.
While controversial from the get-go (the ad was flagged as "soft-core porn" by a parental media watchdog group), the chain continued to feature scantily clad women in its ads, from Kate Upton to "Baywatch" star Charlotte McKinney and even Kim Kardashian.
But as time went on, industry analysts speculated that the commercials inspired more eye-rolling than head turning and that the over-the-top sexuality was actually turning people off from even trying the chain's food.
Now, shifting away from its burger-eating, scantily-clothed past, Carl's Jr.'s new ads show Barber doing real-life activities — like washing an old station wagon with cartoon family decals (a spin on Hilton's original) and cleaning a car seat while eating a burger.
"As a mother, I see myself in these ads. I hose down car seats, just like Celeste," Patty Trevino, Carl's Jr.'s senior vice president of brand marketing told TODAY Food. "I’m constantly running around picking up after them [her kids]. I think everyone can see a little bit of themselves in Celeste’s humor, which is what makes it so real.”
Before joining the fast food giant to promote its aptly titled "Famous Star" burger, Barber has made her mark on social media by posting parodies of celebrity photos, fashion and movies. Trevino added that Barber's ability to spoof "perfectionism in a relatable way" made her an ideal fit for the new campaign.
Some photos show the difference between professional photo shoots and real life, like with Justin Bieber's wife, model Hailey Baldwin:
Or Chloe Grace Moretz — since this is how the rest of us actually feel after grocery shopping.
Sometimes, Barber showcases what fashion trends might really look like in the real world.
And many times, she simply shows off the everyday struggles of just getting ready.
"She’s comfortable in her own skin — she’s a mother, a wife, an author, a social media personality, that everyone can relate to," Trevino said, praising the comedian's "light-hearted approach" to satire.