Jack in the Box created a new ad, titled “Jack’s Bowls,” that has elicited criticism from those who say it champions sexual innuendo in the workplace. In a piece in Adweek titled, “Jack in the Box Just Launched One of the Most Tone-Deaf Ads of the #MeToo Era,” writer David Griner wrote that the ad “celebrates sexual innuendo in the workplace,” asserting that the ad is “basically a minute of incessant genital jokes.”
Griner notes that Jack in the Box and the ad agency David&Goliath “defended the spot, telling Adweek that the ad is not referencing the high-profile #MeToo movement …” Jack in the Box and David&Goliath released a statement to Adweek, 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. 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.
Adweek points out that as part of the campaign, trucks adorned with a “Only Jack Has the Bowls” message will park near McDonald’s, Burger King and Carl’s Jr.
In the ad, some phrases that are used include: “you’ve got some pretty nice bowls there”; a woman saying to a male coworker, “those are some nice bowls”; and others including “everybody’s gonna want to get their hands on Jack’s bowls,” “come try my bowls,” and “check out my bowls.”
Griner writes, “In case it needs to be spelled out, here’s the insidiousness of frequent off-color, sexualized humor in the workplace, especially when perpetuated by executives: It puts employees—most often women, though certainly members the LGBTQ community and honestly anyone with mature sensibilities—in the unwinnable dilemma of either complaining (making them outcasts in their own workplace) or quietly tolerating it and being enablers of a toxic environment.”
Griner concludes, “But when 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. Instead, you’re putting your workplace culture on display and saying, 'We think this is totally OK in the office.'”