The Margin: Is Jack in the Box’s new ad really offensive or are people just busting his bowls?

The Margin: Is Jack in the Box’s new ad really offensive or are people just busting his bowls?

AdWeek creative editor David Griner recently slammed Jack in the Box’s new commercial as “one of the most tone-deaf ads of the #MeToo era.” Then again, someone on Twitter says she can’t wait to get her hands on Jack’s bowls.


So what is it: insensitive and offensive, or clever and funny?


The ad is reminiscent of the classic “Schweddy Balls” skit Alec Baldwin helped make famous on “Saturday Night Live” years ago. In the Jack in the Box version, “Jack” uses that same not-so-subtle innuendo to shill for his new bowls.


“You’ve got some pretty nice bowls, but so does Dan,” he says, as the camera pans to “Dan” holding two bowls at his waistline. A female coworker then also praises Dan for his “nice bowls.” Another chimes in and says “everyone’s gonna want to get their hands on Jack’s bowls.”


You get the idea. The bowl quips continued to fly until, in a meta twist at the end, a lawyer shows up to explain why it’s inappropriate. But Jack isn’t buying it and points to a billboard that says “enjoy my bowls.”


Watch the spot:



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Jack in the Box and the agency behind the ad stood by the campaign, saying it’s “simply a creative and humorous expression,” meant to be “tongue-in-cheek” and “playful.” But in an email to CBS, AdWeek’s Griner didn’t waver.


“In advertising, you can make a brilliantly dumb ad that’s still fantastic,” he wrote. “Sometimes, those are the best ads. But this spot goes dumb without taking the time to be brilliant. Will it work on some folks? Sure. But that’s not a good excuse for celebrating sexual jokes in the workplace.”


Caroline Dettman, chief creative and community officer at Golin, agrees.


“Playing into and encouraging sexual innuendo in the workplace at this point in time strikes me as dangerous. And lazy,” she told PRWeek. “Someone in a position of power should have pushed back — and pushed for better work.”


Read: Jack in the Box shares rally after company earnings top views


Shares of Jack in the Box JACK, +0.14%  closed up fractionally at $85.85 before rallying hard after the bell on better-than-expected earnings. The stock is still down from its 52-week high of $108.55.