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Jack in the Box is under fire for sexually-tinged ad for its new Teriyaki bowls


Jack in the Box has been blasted for a new sexual innuendo-laden advert that some are saying makes light of the #MeToo movement and sexual harassment in the workplace. 

The ad for the restaurant’s new Teriyaki bowls has a naughty play on the word ‘bowls,’ in a way that brings to mind the male anatomy.

‘You’ve got some pretty nice bowls, but so does Dan,’ the company’s mascot says. A female colleague then compliments ‘Dan’ on his ‘nice bowls,’ too, while glancing down toward his waistline, where he’s holding the menu items. 

The placement of this dialogue within the workplace has been called problematic. 

In another scene, Jack discusses the campaign with an executive, and doesn’t seem to understand what all the fuss is about, which critics have said is typical of the kind of leadership that has necessitated the #MeToo movement.

Jack In The Box and the agency which helped create the ad said there’s nothing disparaging about the new campaign.

‘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,’ Jack In The Box said, in a joint statement with David&Goliath to AdWeek.

But AdWeek Creative and Innovation Editor David Griner disagrees with that characterization of the campaign.

‘Yes, juvenile humor is still OK. Kmart’s “Ship My Pants” spot is still just as funny, charming and joyously silly as it was in 2013,’ Griner said.

‘What’s not OK, especially after all the tales of hostile work environments that have been highlighted by the #MeToo movement, is an ad that celebrates sexual innuendo in the workplace, which is exactly what Jack in the Box and agency David&Goliath have done with a new ad called “Jack’s Bowls.”‘

Jack in the Box has been blasted for its latest ad campaign for the restaurant's new Teriyaki bowls with a naughty play on the word 'bowls,' in a way that brings to mind the male anatomy

Jack in the Box has been blasted for its latest ad campaign for the restaurant’s new Teriyaki bowls with a naughty play on the word ‘bowls,’ in a way that brings to mind the male anatomy

Beyond the implication that a colleague is complimenting a man’s ‘bowls’ without his consent, the suggestive references come in a few other forms.

First, we hear Jack saying he’s the only one with the ‘bowls’ to do what he’s doing.

‘While other burger places serves the same old stuff, I’m the only one with the bowls to serve something different,’ he says.

Jack quickly gestures toward two bowls sitting on the table that he’s standing behind, conveniently placed suggestively in the frame.

Then the next frame cuts in closer, showing Jack holding the bowls, as he says: ‘I mean, just look at my teriyaki bowls.’ 

The first reference we hear is Jack saying he's the only one with the 'bowls' to do what he's doing, drawing on a common phrase associated with courage

The first reference we hear is Jack saying he’s the only one with the ‘bowls’ to do what he’s doing, drawing on a common phrase associated with courage

'What about these bowls, Jack?' a man asks Jack, eagerly, with arms outstretched toward him

‘What about these bowls, Jack?’ a man asks Jack, eagerly, with arms outstretched toward him

The play on words takes a break for a few seconds, as the commercial shows chicken and steak teriyaki bowls.

Then, a man pops up on the screen, holding two bowls of his own.

‘What about these bowls, Jack?’ he asks, with arms outstretched. 

‘Hey, you’ve got some pretty nice bowls there,’ Jack replies, ‘but so does Dan.’ 

We can now see a total of three employees behind Jack in the clip, including two men and one woman. Jack has only complimented the men’s bowls.

‘Thanks, Jack,’ the character of Dan says, while also holding two bowls of his own, near his waist.

In a scene with three employees, Jack compliments the 'bowls' of the men in the room

In a scene with three employees, Jack compliments the ‘bowls’ of the men in the room

The woman next to him, who is holding two of her own bowls in close to the same position, then glances toward the bowls with a big smile on her face and says, 'Those are some nice bowls'

The woman next to him, who is holding two of her own bowls in close to the same position, then glances toward the bowls with a big smile on her face and says, ‘Those are some nice bowls’

The woman next to him, who is also holding two of her own bowls in close to the same position, then glances toward the bowls with a big smile on her face and says, ‘Those are some nice bowls.’

The viewer doesn’t see much of Dan’s reaction to this comment, other than a quick turn of the head toward the woman, the moment she starts talking. His expression is a bit startled looking, throughout her entire sentence.

Another quick cut then shows a woman on the stairs, above the other three employees and Jack, also holding two bowls of her own, who says, ‘Everyone’s gonna wanna get their hands on Jack’s bowls.’

'Everyone's gonna wanna get their hands on Jack's bowls,' a woman on the stairs says

‘Everyone’s gonna wanna get their hands on Jack’s bowls,’ a woman on the stairs says

Near the end, we see Jack on the back of a truck featuring his picture and the words 'Try my bowls' on the side, shouting 'Try my bowls,' enthusiastically

Near the end, we see Jack on the back of a truck featuring his picture and the words ‘Try my bowls’ on the side, shouting ‘Try my bowls,’ enthusiastically

From there, we see Jack on the back of a truck featuring his picture and the words ‘Try my bowls’ on the side, shouting ‘Try my bowls,’ enthusiastically.

Possibly anticipating a strong reaction to the suggestive play on words likening Jack in the Box’s new teriyaki bowls to male genitalia, the ad then cuts to a scene of Jack sitting down with an executive from the company. 

‘Jack, the lawyers aren’t comfortable with the new marketing campaign,’ the executive says.

Jack, bewildered, asks why, adding, ‘People love my bowls.’

‘See, that right there, you can’t say that,’ the man tells Jack. 

But Jack doesn’t get it, asking, ‘I can’t say people love my bowls?’ 

He gets shut down right away, then suggests, ‘Try my bowls,’ only to receive another instant ‘no.’ 

‘Check out my bowls?’ Jack asks, to which the executive says, ‘Absolutely not.’

Critics have said Jack's clueless response to the executive's concerns, featured in the ad, is typical of male CEOs that have been brought down by the #MeToo movement.

Critics have said Jack’s clueless response to the executive’s concerns, featured in the ad, is typical of male CEOs that have been brought down by the #MeToo movement.

Oblivious to the sexual implication of his ‘bowls’ message, Jack asks, ‘What about my billboard?’ and gestures to a massive billboard with the words, ‘Enjoy my bowls,’ stretching across it.

The executive doesn’t even respond to that with words, but instead lowers his head with his hand to his forehead and lets out a frustrated puff of air.

‘What?’ Jack asks. 

Critics have said Jack’s clueless response to the executive’s concerns is typical of male CEO’s that have been brought down by the #MeToo movement.

‘[W]hen you find yourself reaching for a genital innuendo just because you can, then choosing to place it in a workplace, having it come from the boss and even dropping in a lawyer to sorry-not-sorry acknowledge what a tone-deaf idea this is, then the focus is no longer on your food,’ Griner wrote.

‘Instead, you’re putting your workplace culture on display and saying, “We think this is totally OK in the office.”‘

Jack In The Box disagrees, however, saying, ‘This ad is a creative and humorous expression around the teriyaki bowl, highlighting how a burger brand such as Jack in the Box has the guts—or ‘bowls’—to go beyond the usual and serve something other than burgers.’

The campaign is also expected to include a real-world component, with trucks parked near competitors’ locations, like McDonald’s, Burger King and Carl’s Jr., featuring the words ‘Only Jack Has the Bowls.’

The campaign is also expected to include a real-world component, with trucks parked near competitors' locations, like McDonald¿s, Burger King and Carl¿s Jr., featuring the words 'Only Jack Has the Bowls' in large letters with 'to serve teriyaki' written slightly smaller, below that

The campaign is also expected to include a real-world component, with trucks parked near competitors’ locations, like McDonald’s, Burger King and Carl’s Jr., featuring the words ‘Only Jack Has the Bowls’ in large letters with ‘to serve teriyaki’ written slightly smaller, below that



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