Fast food goes new media…

Until this week, it seemed fairly safe to suppose that an impenetrable divide existed between the world of SEC filings and the technophiles who have already downloaded MashDeck. And then we read the exhibit to this 8-K, which included one of the first references we’ve seen in SEC filings to the the popular social media site Mashable. (And because the web is a giant echo chamber, Mashable has its own account of the story).

It was filed by CKE Restaurants, Inc. (CKR) – the company behind Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. restaurants — you know, the fast-food joints where you get those late-night Western Bacon Thickburgers and Jumbo Chili Dogs when nothing else will do.

Here’s what we found, which comes shortly after CEO Andrew Puzder explained that while —It has never been my goal to get excited over reporting flat earnings or margins, the fact that the company’s operating income and margins remained steady in spite of the poor economy and competitive industry practices was —a testament to our management team and the strength of our brands. Then Puzder said:

We just launched a very innovative partnership with YouTube whereby we are utilizing some of their most popular video stars to produce short videos promoting our burgers. With a combined following of 3.2 million subscribers, these video bloggers (vloggers) are helping us target our customer demographic where they already are. In addition, the media cost is much lower than with traditional advertising. According to, the world’s largest blog focused exclusively on Web 2.0 and Social Media news, our sponsored video content appears to have —turned out to be a big hit.— In fact, just one of the Carl’s Jr. vloggers created a video that’s already received over 2.4 million views across the web. All of the Carl’s Jr. vloggers— videos, combined, have been viewed more than 5.7 million times.

But it’s not just Carl’s Jr. We also noticed the annual report that Bob Evans Farms, Inc. (BOBE) filed earlier this week. In it, the company touts its use of —BE-Mail, Facebook, Twitter, and a revamped web site. Be sure to check out the unlikely pairing of its list of corporate Twitter users with the down-home images of rolling hills. Then again, a quick scan of some of Bob Evans tweeters shows that they’re not exactly regulars.

Of course, the real question is whether this embrace of social media technology by decidedly non-tech companies is worth the money and the effort. We’ve eaten at Bob Evans before and it’s hard to imagine much overlap between those folks and people who crashed Twitter yesterday looking for news and sharing memories about Michael Jackson.


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