Posted on / by John Cobb / in Food and Beverage, Social Media, United States

Jack in the Box was cool 20 years ago and still is today.

What’s cool about this

As you probably may know, Jack in the Box is a major fast food restaurant chain in the United States. They are more popular on the West Coast in states like California and Arizona. Apart from their hamburger offerings, Jack in the Box also is known for offering really cheap tacos (I don’t think they’re that great) that get a lot of people into the restaurant. They take a more volume-oriented approach towards their business.

When I was attending 3rd grade at St Cyril’s Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona, Jack in the Box released these car antenna toppers that were shaped like Jack’s head. They were made of Styrofoam and didn’t really hold up well in the Arizona summer. They would kind of get sun-bleached fast and get gross looking after a while.

I remember all of my friends and I being very fascinated at these foam balls. They would release different versions of them that fit with different promotions. There was the classic version. I seem to remember there being an extraterrestrial version and a Hawaiian version.

Now, we didn’t have cars ourselves but we wanted our parents to have these foam balls on their car antennas. I got my father to take me into Jack in the Box. With our purchase, we got a foam ball which I put on the antenna of his red Kia Sportage.

I didn’t really like my meal (the aforementioned tacos) at Jack in the Box so I never felt the urge to go back to the restaurant. I already had the antenna topper. It was cool to be seen with my father. My mother couldn’t be convinced to put the foam ball on her vehicle.

My best friend at the time, Tyler, apparently got his parents into Jack in the box at least twice, maybe more. I remember his father having the Hawaiian version on his classic VW Beetle and his mother having one on her SUV (I can’t remember the model, but I think it was an Isuzu Trooper).

The first marketing lesson here is that businesses should look for a low-cost options to remain in their customers’ minds.

The foam balls probably cost a penny or two to make and they were undoubtedly imported in large quantities from China or some other Asian country with low cost of labor. The foam ball would then serve as a visual reminder to the customer that they should eat at Jack in the Box. Since they were already an existing customer, they would be more likely to eat at Jack in the Box. Additionally, other drivers would see the foam ball and it would serve as an advertisement with free impressions and it might trigger their memory or their desire to eat at Jack in the Box the next time they were looking for a quick meal.

This particular creative is successful because it embraces the first marketing lesson. It’s just a basic feed post that was never boosted. The people who follow the Jack in the Box account on Instagram are presumably already Jack in the Box customers so the advertisement is free impressions for the business.

There’s another more subtle marketing lesson here also. Businesses should embrace pop culture and tie in their brand message. I seem to remember the first antenna toppers coming from Union 76, a gas station. They were these orange balls with a 76 on them that would remind drivers to fill up their gas at their gas station. Jack in the Box later saw this promotion and improved upon the concept. They successfully captured a fad and made their restaurant cool for third graders like me at the time.

The best marketers pay attention and focus on maximizing value through retaining customers. That’s what you need to do to have sustained success. You can’t just rely on random acts of business.

About this creative

Category: Food and Beverage

Company: Jack in the Box

Company URL:

Advertising Format: Social Media

Social Network: Instagram

Country: United States


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