Jack in the Box is a classic fast-food spot, beloved for its Tiny Tacos, Curly Fries and Breakfast Jack. This fast-food chain is also distinctive for its strange, lovable mascot- Jack. However, there's more to the Jack in the Box mascot than appears at first glance.
Jack's Back Story
Most of us know Jack from Jack in the Box' ad campaigns, in which he presents as a savvy businessman who's looking out for the little guys. With his ping-pong ball head and his pointy yellow hat, he's a far cry from Ronald McDonald or Wendy. Along with being a part of creative and humorous commercials, Jack has an entire fictional biography, including history and family members.
Jack I. Box was born on a cattle ranch in Colorado, and he later moved to Southern California. Jack there met his wife Cricket, who he had a young son with named Jack Jr. (who also has a ping-pong ball head). Our favorite fast food mascot also has a degree from Ball State University and speaks Mandarin, which he speaks in the 1999 TV ad "Titans."
Along with this hidden talent, Jack owns an American football team, the Carnivores. He also went so far as to run for president in 1996, winning against Bill Clinton, Bob Dole and Dogbert.
The Origin of Jack
Jack didn't start off as the star of marketing campaigns; he was simply a ploy to grab the attention of passersby. When Robert Peterson started the very first Jack in the Box restaurant in San Diego, California, he put a clown head mascot on the restaurant roof to intrigue those walking by.
Since this seemed to successfully grab the attention of hungry motorcyclists, the founder continued to place the clown head on restaurant drive-thrus as he opened more and more locations. However, in the late 70's, Jack in the Box executives came to the decision that the clown head was juvenile, so they did away with him by blowing up poor innocent Jack in a dramatic TV commercial.
The restaurant then continued rebranding, changing some locations to Monterey Jack's. However, this change didn't do much for their popularity, so the fast food chain was changed back to Jack in the Box by the mid 80's.
Jack Returns With a Bang
The company eventually missed their quirky, clown-head mascot, and brought Jack back with another explosive commercial in the 90's. The chain's profits were down, partly due to an E. coli scandal leading to the deaths of four children, so they decided to bring back their goofy-looking mascot. This new commercial was the start of Jack's inappropriate presence, as in the commercial, he takes revenge on the executives who dismissed him by blowing up their boardroom.
Although the chain was only intending to bring Jack back with a bang, many were offended by Jack's actions, as this was during a rise in terrorism world-wide, and the news was already bombarding the public with suicide bombers and terrorist attacks. The company responded to the offended public by saying that the ad was aired in a "cartoonishly humorous fashion."
Jack's Elaborate Marketing Campaigns
Jack in the Box also caused some strong reactions with his savage commercial titled "The Visit," in which he visits a man who had been slandering the restaurant. Jack drags the man onto his lawn and forces him to eat a burger, fries and a shake, until the man finally admits that Jack in the Box's food is good.
As Dick Sittig told AdWeek, it took awhile to get that ad approved, and it did end up receiving criticism from some. However, Sittig won an advertising award for the provocative ad. Another Jack in the Box commercial that elicited a strong reaction was the Super Bowl commercial in which Jack gets hit by a bus.
Viewers and fans were encouraged to leave encouragement for their fallen hero at hangintherejack.com. This commercial was part of an elaborate marketing campaign, in which Jack comes out of his coma just in time to keep the restaurant chain from changing its name to Phil in the Box.
Along with being part of a rebranding process, this creative ad campaign showed just how many people love Jack in the Box, as 67,000 people signed up to get updates on Jack's medical condition. Although the public has been through many ups and downs with Jack in the Box's distinctive pong-head presence, it's clear that his fans love him no matter his strange appearance and checkered past.