Carl's Jr.'s 'Spielburger' Rejected by Steven Spielberg

Burger branding, marketing and April Fools’ Day jokes, all rolled into one.

By Ethan L. Johns
March 30, 2018

Image: Carl’s Jr./Twitter

Carl’s Jr. continued its quirky and aggressive media strategy this week, as it attempted to name its charbroiled slider burgers after a prominent Hollywood director.

Coinciding with the release of Ready Player One—a new sci-fi flick from Warner Brothers—the burger chain announced that it would honor the film’s director, Steven Spielberg, by renaming its charbroiled sliders “Spielburgers.”

In a series of short videos, the company introduced these new products: burger-ified versions of Spielberg’s most classic films. Jaws gets a shark with a burger for a mouth, while Jurassic Park’s T. Rex gets a similar makeover. We see E.T. as a burger in a bicycle basket, and “Close Encounters of the Charbroiled Kind.”

Carl’s Jr. even went so far as to deliver samples to Spielberg’s office, though they didn’t manage to see the director in the flesh.

Spielberg came back with a brief response—filmed selfie-style while walking down a hallway—in which he called the sliders “pretty good.” Despite this, he stated that he was going to take a hard pass, and ordered Carl’s Jr. to “cease and desist.”

Bummer, dude.

Naturally, no brand would go through all that trouble and risk being sued for infringing on intellectual property rights via social media. According to USA Today, CKE Restaurants Holdings, the parent company of Carl’s Jr., purchased licensing rights to these films. And a healthy dose of promotion for the new film (and a Carl’s Jr. wrapper in its theatrical poster) imply that the two were in cahoots.

A scheme for the ages, as it goes. Yet this still doesn’t explain the stunt that the burger chain pulled with Amazon last year. One day, perhaps, all fast food secrets will be revealed.

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About Ethan L. Johns

Ethan is the Food News Writer at Genius Kitchen. An expert on the Parisian bistrot, he likes bitters and salted butters, and is no fan of dessert unless it's made with fruit. His hobbies include reading up on the history of borscht and attempting to roll perfect couscous by hand. Twits & Instagram @EthanLJohns