"Nice bowls, there!": Jack in the Box faces major backlash after releasing "tone-deaf," sexual innuendo-laden ad

Jack in the Box has drawn the ire of liberals for its new TV commercial, which features not-so-subtle references to male genitalia.

                            "Nice bowls, there!": Jack in the Box faces major backlash after releasing "tone-deaf," sexual innuendo-laden ad
(Source:Getty Images)

An advertisement, laden with sexual innuendos, has landed Jack in the Box knee deep in controversy on social media. The commercial, intended to market the chain's new teriyaki bowls, features the brand's fictional CEO, Jack, discussing the new 'bowls' as a pun to refer to a male sexual organ.

Jack walks into a room and says he’s the only one with “the bowls to serve something different.” The sequence features more bowl-based innuendos, with Jack complimenting an employee, “You’ve got some pretty nice bowls there, and so does Dan.”

Furthermore, even a female employee is seen commenting on Dan's "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.” However, towards the end of the spot, an executive is seen telling Jack that his marketing strategy is making people "uncomfortable." 

“The lawyers aren’t comfortable with the new marketing campaign,” he says.

David Griner said the stunt celebrates sexual jokes in the workplace, writing about the same in an article for AdWeek titled “Jack in the Box Just Launched One of the Most Tone-Deaf Ads of the #MeToo Era."

That said, this is not the first time Jack in the Box has caught flak for its tongue-in-cheek advertisements. The chain was previously criticized for its stoner geared Munchies Meals commercials. Also, many viewers derided the course taken by the brand, saying it is ignorant of the #MeToo era.

In the light of the #MeToo movement and the recent national coverage about hostile work environments and sexual abuse, many are calling the commercial "inappropriate". Having said that, David & Goliath, the agency that created the advertisement, along with Jack in the Box, are standing by the commercial.

In a joint statement to AdWeek, they said, “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.”  "[A]s 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," the companies said in a joint statement.

"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." 

But Twitterati did not resonate with their sentiments completely, with many saying the sexual innuendos were offensive. However, there were quite a few who thought people were making "something out of nothing."

"It’ll alienate some customers, but then again, we’re talking about it, so it may bring Jack in the Box to the top of people's awareness," said Deb Gabor, CEO of Austin-based Sol Marketing. "It could potentially have a positive effect" on sales.