Jack in the Box Is Under Fire for This ‘Tone Deaf,’ Sexual Innuendo-Filled Commercial

Back in its glory days, Jack in the Box was known for its kitschy advertising prowess. It was an odd formula for a fast food company to air commercials with court jesters, but the style paid dividends for the brand and served as a guidepost for its competitors. Fast forward to the digital age, however, and the company's bobble-headed mascot is causing a stir: The chain's newest commercial has fallen afoul of the internet and various media types for playing too loose with a sexual innuendo. 

An advertisement for Jack in the Box's new Teriyaki Bowls makes explicit overuse of the term bowls. The commercial shows the brand's mascot Jack walking around an office, complementing his employee's terriyaki bowls and boasting about his own. "Come try my bowls!," Jack implores, in an all-too-obvious pun alluding to his crotch. The commercial ends with Jack being reprimanded by a lawyer for his obvious lapse in judgement, but the damage had been fully wrought by all the preceding gags.  

Prominently, Adweek writer David Griner lambasted the commercial as a "tone-deaf" affront to the #MeToo movement. 

"In perhaps its most telling moment, the ad tries to go meta by having a lawyer explain to Jack that the campaign is inappropriate, but (in a commendable accurate portrayal of male executives), he doesn't understand what the fuss is about, " Griner wrote. 

Griner's column spurred enough attention to force Jack in the Box to defend itself in a statement. The company wrote to CNBC: 

"As a brand known by its fans for its tongue-in-cheek, playful sense of humor, this ad is simply a creative and humorous expression around the teriyaki bowl product. It intends to highlight how a burger brand, such as Jack in the Box, dares to go beyond the usual fast-food fare and serve something different. 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."

Twitter, which is usually a great place to gauge the level of outrage about a news item, wasn't exactly fuming about the commercial:  

Aside from Griner's column, it's unclear where most of the backlash is coming from. Basically, all of the video's comments on YouTube lament the supposed "outrage" without citing much evidence of it. In any case, Jack in the Box is sticking by its commercial, which in a really pathetic way is becoming a new, albeit tiny flashpoint in America's culture wars. 


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Sam Blum is a News Staff Writer for Thrillist. He's also a martial arts and music nerd who appreciates a fine sandwich and cute dogs. Find his clips in The Guardian, Rolling Stone, The A.V. Club and Esquire. He's on Twitter @Blumnessmonster