Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Jack In The Box' Stupid Marketing Trick

A few months ago, I noticed a new Jack In The Box restaurant being constructed... with an entirely different logo. Some ad genius decided to update the brand, whether it needed it or not.

Actually, this isn't an update. It's a redesign. And as several advertising analysts have pointed out, the new brand logo looks more like a video game logo than a fast food hamburger restaurant logo. It hasn't been doing well in the unscientific preference surveys I've seen.

Personally, I don't have strong feelings one way or the other about the new logo. I do have strong feelings about radically redesigning a familiar and heavily advertised brand. If I ran Jack In The Box, there is NO FREAKING WAY I would allow some ad agency to jack with the Jack In The Box image.

I don't know who brought in the agency, Duffy & Partners, to redo the logo and I'm not questioning the work the agency did. I just wonder, "Why?"

Look at the cost the chain will have to endure. Look at the cost its franchisees will suck up to change the signage. I'm all for aggressive marketing during a downturn, but this isn't aggressive. It's a foolish expense.

Clearly something is wrong in the land of Jack if reports by ad guru, Jim Edwards are correct and Jack In The Box is buying local media in the New York market when the closest restaurant is in North Carolina.

Jack In The Box has benefitted from great advertising by the agency, Secret Weapon. The Jack character has been described as the anti-Ronald McDonald. Distinction is necessary for a player with a much smaller ad budget than its competitors. The Jack In The Box ad spots are designed to appeal to the 18 to 35 year old age group who finds shows like The Simpsons and Southpark amusing. Sometimes, however, I wonder if the ads use too many inside jokes about corporate life.

Still, the spots have been well done, always included an explicit or implicit call to action, and helped distinguish the company. On the whole, Jack has benefitted from solid work by its agency.

Fortunately for Jack, the competition leaves much to be desired. McDonalds is politically correct and bland. And the worst Jack In The Box commercial is far better than anything featuring the creepy Burger King. I bet the Burger King creeps you out too.

Jack In The Box will survive the logo change. But survival is not the same thing as benefitting.

Logo changes should be gradual, made over time, and made so that anyone familiar with the old logo won't doubt its connection with the new logo. This is true for any business, but especially small business. Small business owners simply do not have the budget to instantly redo a brand image that's been built over years.


  1. The wierd thing is I don't believe Jack in the Box is going to change all the signage. They would have done it at the same time as the media brand image was changed, because they actually own their restaurants.

    I totally agree that the change adds no value to the brand, and may actually lessen the brand's value through confussion resulting from the inconsistent imagery. It's strange to make a desicion that intoduces risk without any real reward. I'm sure the risk is minimal if at all, but am I missing something? Where is the upside?

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