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November 13, 2009

Don't Know Jack

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Apparently this has been going on for a while, but I didn't notice it until I drove to California and back recently.

It seems that the regional fast-food chain Jack in the Box (see here for details if you're not familiar with it) has changed its logotype. The old logo, thanks to years of advertising, has become strongly associated with "Jack" the company spokesman -- the ball-shaped head and yellow cap also having been part of store signage for periods of time.

Logotypes, old (left) and new (right)

Jack "himself"

Okay, so the new logo is adult, sophisticated, clean and doubtless embodies a host of additional presumed design virtues. I think it's a mistake. This is a fast-food, mostly-hamburger joint and not some upscale veggie lounge, as the new logo suggests. Bright, brash and eye-catching are what's needed, and the previous logo supplied enough of that. What we have now looks like the result of some snobbish design consultant thinking too hard. Plus a corporate management that doesn't seem to understand the company's heart.

For the sake of piling on, here is another unhappy observer's take.



posted by Donald at November 13, 2009


It's a HUGE mistake! They're trying to go all Mad Men retro to hawk the worst fast food burgers in existence!

Posted by: annk on November 13, 2009 2:41 PM

But the best fast food ads seem to be the ones for Carls Jr., another regional chain. A couple of observations:

- The now-departed patriarch of the chain, Carl Karcher, would undoubtedly find the ads in poor taste, but the target demo for fast food burgers is men 18-34, and they respond to a message that is basically "buy our burgers and Paris Hilton will want to have sex with you."

- The Carl's Jr. "don't bother me, I'm eating" ad campaign was spoofed in the movie Idiocracy. In the 2505, the slogan is "f**k you, I'm eating."

Posted by: Sgt. Joe Friday on November 13, 2009 4:17 PM

Obviously, they don't know Jack.

Posted by: Charlton Griffin on November 13, 2009 5:02 PM

Typical corporate thinking. How about better food, not a new logo. It's all about image, never substance. That's all the MBAs have in their playbook. Logos, mergers, layoffs.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on November 13, 2009 5:17 PM

Some jack-in-office believes himself to be a Agent of Change.

Posted by: dearieme on November 13, 2009 7:01 PM

To my eye, there's not a whole lot of difference. I guess the old one smells late sixties / early seventies, and the new one smells about ten years earlier.

Why make that huge investment-- not just in paying the people to come up with it, but in changing the stores, packaging, signage, etc.-- if it's not a change big enough to merit the effort?

I would guess it absolutely is the product of someone in the hierarchy justifying their existence, and paycheck.

Posted by: karlub on November 13, 2009 7:45 PM

Jack-in-the-Box is probably the most expensive of the fast-food burger chains. It relies on witty advertising and a more sophisticated menu to justify its high prices.

Posted by: Steve Sailer on November 13, 2009 11:50 PM

"I would guess it absolutely is the product of someone in the hierarchy justifying their existence, and paycheck."

Exactly so, karlub! That's all it is, most of the time, when logo changes happen; they're usually quite unnecessary, even counter-productive. And yet companies stupidly keep trying to fix what ain't broken.

Posted by: Will S. on November 14, 2009 2:11 AM

Oh well, six months from now, they'll revert to the old logo and have an ad campaign touting their return to classic Jack.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on November 14, 2009 3:06 AM

Yes, I was wondering if they were going to do what Coke did. I still can't figure out, mind you, whether Coke's intention was that all along, or whether they brilliantly salvaged themselves from a losing strategy.

Posted by: Will S. on November 15, 2009 4:28 PM

Agreed on the logo. Disagree with commenters regarding the quality of their food. They used to be known for particularly bad food, but they turned themselves around in that department. The downside to JitB is their food is astonishingly bad for you even by fast food standards.

Not sure Steve Sailer is right about prices. It depends on what you get. The two tacos for a dollar is one of the best deals there is in fast food.

The Jack in the Boxes out here have taken to installing kiosks so you don't have to order with a human. I've been saying that all of them should do this for years.

Posted by: Trumwill on November 18, 2009 10:44 PM

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