Jack in the Box has always been known to push the limit (in 1980, the chain decided to stop using their circus decor, so they blew up their clown mascot in a commercial to let people know). But this time, they might have gone a little too far. The company released an ad for their new teriyaki bowls, and let’s just say that it’ll make you cringe.
The ad starts with their famous mascot, Jack, comparing his restaurant to the competition. While other burger joints serve the same types of food, Jack in the Box is the only one with the “bowls” to do something different. The fact that two teriyaki bowls are on the screen near his nether regions is a pretty obvious gag.
While it’s okay to think the play on words is funny, things get more uncomfortable when Jack casually talks about his bowls to a group of employees, including women. Jack openly states one of the men has “pretty nice bowls.” It will make women who have faced similar workplace language feel very uneasy.
In the days of the #MeToo movement, when women are finally feeling free to stand up against abusers and sexual harassers who’ve used their place of power to bring on distress, the commercial is blatantly inappropriate.
The ad was uploaded to YouTube by Jack in the Box, but is currently unlisted. Still, it has around 70k views.[fm_youtube url="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMGkdLBN7lk"]
What pushes the limit further is the fact that Jack in the Box knew it’d be inappropriate. There’s a scene in which Jack is talking to a legal adviser about the advertisement. “The lawyers aren’t comfortable with the new marketing campaign,” the adviser says. “You can’t say that.”
AdWeek called the new advertisement “tone deaf,” stating, “It puts employees — most often women, though certainly members the LGBTQ community and honestly anyone with mature sensibilities — in the unwinnable dilemma of either complaining (making them outcasts in their own workplace) or quietly tolerating it and being enablers of a toxic environment.” Simply put, chatting about genitals in the workplace is inappropriate, and this ad normalizes the act.
The company is standing behind the ad, telling AdWeek that it’s “not diminishing any movement.” They also noted that they “stand firmly against any form of harassment and value those who have the guts to combat it.” Regardless, the ad is in poor taste and they should have realized they’re promoting way more than teriyaki bowls.