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Jack Box (full name Jack I. Box; or simply known as Jack) is the mascot of American fast-food restaurant chain Jack in the Box. In the advertisements, he is the founder, CEO, and ad spokesman for the chain. According to the company's web site, he has the appearance of a typical male, with the exception of his huge spherical white head, blue dot eyes, conical black pointed nose, and a curvilinear red smile. He is most of the time seen wearing his yellow clown cap, and a business suit driving a red Viper convertible.
The company has used the Jack Box mascot in its advertising since 1994 and has won a number of advertising awards for the long campaign.
Prior to 1980, the chain used a huge clown head as its symbol, which sat atop the remote activated talking drive-thru menus (in the 1960s and early '70s the rotating clown head was also at the top of the large signs at each location). In 1980, the chain decided to establish a more "mature" image by introducing a wider variety of menu items and, most notably, discontinuing the use of Jack. A series of television commercials announced "We're blowing up clowns!" and showed the dramatic explosion of the notorious clown heads. Throughout the late 1980s to the 1990s, Jack in the Box tried to position itself as a premium fast food alternative, with varying results.
In 1993, a major food contamination crisis was linked to Jack in the Box restaurants and by 1994, a series of lawsuits and negative publicity took their tolls and pushed their corporate parent, Foodmaker Inc. to the verge of bankruptcy. In the short term, they decided to promote their initiatives on food safety and then approved a new guerilla advertising campaign created by Richard (Dick) Sittig, then working at the TBWA\Chiat\Day ad agency in Santa Monica, California. The concept brought back the original company mascot, Jack, but now in the form of a savvy, no-nonsense businessman who happened to have an enormous round clown head.
A series of new commercials featured a new, more-serious Jack with a smaller head and wearing a business suit (according to him, "thanks to the miracle of plastic surgery"). In the very first of these new commercials, he blew up the board of directors as retribution for his supposed destruction in 1980 (using the 7-note musical signature in its previous campaign as a tribute). Their intent was to prove to a wary public that the company was no longer the same restaurant chain plagued by the food safety scandal, and because the commercials had a definite humorous element to them that undermined the alleged "retribution" that Jack was supposedly demonstrating in these commercials and overall, the public responded positively.
Dick Sittig was the voice of Jack until 2015. He left TBWA/Chiat/Day in 1997, taking the ad campaign with him to his own agency in Santa Monica, first called "Kowloon Wholesale Seafood Co." and later as Secret Weapon Marketing. Jack in the Box ended its relationship with Sittig and Secret Weapon in 2015.
The company's "bio" of him claims the following facts:
- According to his California driver's license, Jack I. Box is 6'-8" tall and weighs 195 pounds. It also shows his birthday to be May 16.
- Jack was born on a cattle ranch in Colorado. He later moved to Southern California, where he met his blonde wife, Cricket, played by model Laura Dunn (1996-2010) and Gillian Vigman (2010 - present). They now have a young son named Jack Jr. (who, like all males in the Box family tree, also has an oversized bald head). However, in May 2010, Jack appeared in a new commercial with a woman that did not resemble Cricket, who appeared with him in a commercial in 1997. The pair took in a movie where Jack complained and cried about the price of popcorn in relation to his low-priced menu. Jack revealed to his son that he really met Cricket at a concert at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA where Jack's heavy metal band Hot Mess was the opening act.
- Jack is an alumnus of Ball State University, a reference to his ball-shaped head.
- Jack, fluent in English, Spanish and Chinese, has starred in more than 300 television and radio commercials, including more than 100 Spanish-language ads. Jack's linguistic talents also include Mandarin, which he spoke in the 1999 television ad "Titans."
- Jack ran for president in 1996 and beat out Bill Clinton, Bob Dole and Dogbert in a national independent Virtual Vote poll; no recounts were required.
- During Super Bowl XXXV, Jack in the Box debuted a television commercial in which Jack announced his purchase of a professional American football team, the Carnivores. His team played against teams such as the Tofu Eaters and the Vegans.
Other facts and family members
- In late 2009, the company began to run a commercial in which Jack visited his cousin Jim, who was serving time in prison. Jim has a large white head that resembles a Ping-Pong ball squashed from both sides, with wispy gray hair and beard, along with a surly voice and facial expression. He does not wear a clown cap.
- In 2010, a commercial aired where Jack visits his mother Patty, a blond-haired human, talking about her clipping coupons; at the end of the ad, Jack's father (who has a normal body, and a white head which resembles an egg, with wispy grey hair on his temples) comes in, saying "It's been more than 4 hours, call the doctor (implying his father suffers from erectile dysfunction)." Jack then says he has to leave.
- In late 2012, a commercial introduced Jack's cousin Joey and his son Joey Jr., who live in Philadelphia. Both have large egg-shaped white heads, a slight upward curve to their noses, and brown hair in a mullet. Joey's wife has a normal head.
- Near the end of both 2013 and 2014, a series of commercials for the "Jack's Munchie Meal" combo featured a small puppet version of Jack interacting with a human late at night. Both spoke and acted as if they were under the influence of drugs.
- Jack's smile can change to reflect his mood (puzzlement, fear, etc.). During one commercial, in which he was playing Texas hold 'em against several celebrities, he made his eyes and mouth disappear completely. The announcer remarked, "Now that's a world-class poker face."
2009 bus accident and recovery advertising campaign
On February 1, 2009, a new ad campaign began with a Super Bowl ad that showed Jack being struck by a bus outside his corporate office. Along with his second in command, Phil, he was walking down the street, stating that he wants the public to know about the fact that the public can order anything on his menu, anytime. He states "For instance, breakfast all day, or maybe a burg-." At that moment, a bus is seen to strike Jack head on, as onlookers cringe and his hat knocked off. The ad ends with Jack lying on the ground badly injured while the paramedics are being summoned. Viewers were then directed to visit the website hangintherejack.com to check on his condition.
The next ad showed Jack being checked into the hospital and being operated on as his heart stopped, as Doctor Robert Conely was talking about the a "midnight breakfast at Jack's" with Nurse O'Brien. It is also revealed that his head did not fit into the CAT scan machine and that the doctors were using unprofessional equipment (Doctor Conely states at the end of the ad to give him a hot glue gun and a bonesaw).
The third ad showed Jack in a coma, and Phil volunteering to take his place at the company's head, despite Jack not being dead (he felt that he was close enough to death that he should prepare to step up, and Dr. Conely even states that he might not live). All the while, another assistant, Barbara, is more positive about the situation, stating that Jack will recover.
The fourth ad showed Phil announcing, after snapping his fingers, that he was going to take over Jack In the Box. Jack, regaining awareness of his surrounding (albeit only listening and blurred vision), thinks to himself that Phil using most of his ideas is a good thing. However, Phil states that he intends to change the company name, to "Phil in the Box", going as far to hold up the future company logo. At that moment, Jack woke up and began throttling Phil, stating that he will not let the name change occur, and stating that he has work to do, all the while demanding his pants. The words "Jack's Back" appear on the screen.
Shortly after the announcement, the company got rid of the old Jack In the Box logo, and introduced a newer, more modern logo, along with a redesigned website. The overall campaign was noted for its unusually extensive (for the time) use of social media to gain viewer impressions at a lower cost than traditional media.
The Pilot Episode of American Dad! shows Stan Smith falsely blaming a student body candidate at his son's school for having a sexual relationship with Jack. When his son, Steve states that he thought that Jack was in the basement of the Smith house, it cuts to houseguest Roger Smith finding Jack in the basement, tied up and stripped down to presumably nothing.
The April 24, 2009 edition of the Adam Carolla  Podcast featured Sittig, in character as Jack, involving a humorous discussion on other restaurant mascots (Ronald McDonald, The Burger King), the fast food business and general listener Q&A. In the podcast, Jack insinuates that The Burger King is bisexual, citing his attire (tights, felt shoes and a cape). Carolla jumps in with a tale of the King buying a drink for a male friend of his in Canada, though this claim cannot be verified.
- "Jack in the Box, Inc.", The Encyclopedia of Major Marketing Campaigns, (Gale Group, 2006), ISBN 978-0787673567, vol. 2, pp. 811ff – via HighBeam Research (subscription required).
- Brandon A. Miller, Catherine Newton, "Antenna balls are on the rebound", Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, July 27, 2001 – via HighBeam Research (subscription required).
- Randi Schmelzer, "Dick Sittig On The Spot", Adweek, January 10, 2005.
- Alana Semuels, "This advertising shop knows Jack", Los Angeles Times, February 7, 2008.
- Gregory Solman, "Dick Sittig, in Situ", Adweek, September 1, 2008.
- Oster, Erik. "Jack in the Box Splits with Secret Weapon After 20 Years". Adweek. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
- HangInThereJack website Archived 2009-02-05 at the Wayback Machine
- Dan Neil, "Jack in the Box feeds the social media beast", Los Angeles Times, March 17, 2009.
- Tim Nudd, "Jack in the Box mascot lives, still a big tool", Adweek, March 4, 2009.
- 4/24/2009 Adam Carolla Podcast (explicit)