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Jack in the Box Catches Heat Over Innuendo-Laden Teriyaki Bowl Ad

The chain takes a big step backwards with this new commercial

Jack in the Box, the fast food chain that dares to serve chicken fajita pitas alongside egg rolls, is being criticized by media-watchers over a new commercial for its teriyaki bowls that’s laden with inane sexual innuendoes.

The commercial begins with the chain’s mascot, Jack, explaining, “While other burger places serve the same old stuff, I’m the one with the bowls to serve something different.” His staffers then begin complimenting his bowls, and Jack remarks that one of his co-workers, Dan, also has “some pretty nice bowls.” One female employee says, “Those are some nice bowls,” while another woman at Jack in the Box HQ remarks, “Everyone’s going to want to get their hands on Jack’s bowls.” Midway through the commercial, a manager-type guy tells Jack, “The lawyers aren’t comfortable with the new marketing campaign,” but the mascot doesn’t see the problem.

AdWeek’s David Griner points out that this is “an ad that celebrates sexual innuendo in the workplace.” It’s also particularly inappropriate in light of the #MeToo movement and the recent national conversation about sexual harassment and hostile work environments. Both Jack in the Box and the agency that created the ad, David & Goliath, stand by the commercial, telling AdWeek in a joint statement, “This ad is not diminishing any movement, and we stand firmly against any form of harassment and value those who have the guts to combat it.” That statement doesn’t hold water, though, because the entire premise of the ad — the joke — is that Jack’s employees are being tricked by their male boss into parroting a sexual innuendo that reinforces his dominant status in the workplace.

Although the chain is sticking by this TV spot, the commercial remains “unlisted” on YouTube for now.
Jack in the Box [YouTube]
Jack in the Box Just Launched One of the Most Tone-Deaf Ads of the #MeToo Era [AdWeek]