Just recently, Jack in the Box reportedly released a new video advertisement, titled “Jack’s Bowls,” promoting their teriyaki bowls. Throughout the advertisement, the fast food company apparently attempted to use creativity and humor to reference the guts, or “bowls,” that they have for carrying such an unusual item on their menu.
Their attempt at clever comedy, however, was viewed by many humorless people in the #MeToo movement as celebrating sexual innuendos in the workplace. Consequently, the company’s innuendo-filled advertisement experienced a massive amount of feminist backlash.
“While other burger places serve the same old stuff, I’m the one with the bowls to serve something different,” explained Jack while approaching the table.
He then picked up the two bowls in front of him and added, “I mean, just look at my teriyaki bowls.”
After doing so, he then described the bowls in a bit of detail. Upon concluding, a man who appeared to be an employee at the Jack in the Box headquarters asked, “what about these bowls, Jack?”
In response, the mascot replied, “hey, you got some pretty nice bowls there. But so does Dan.”
A woman who appeared to be a female employee then quipped, “those are some nice bowls.”
A second female employee added, “everyone’s going to want to get their hands on Jack’s bowls.”
The advertisement then cut to Jack proudly exclaiming “come try my bowls!” while standing on the back of a truck.
Upon making this comment, the advertisement then paused and cut to a meeting room between Jack and another man who explained to him that “the lawyers aren’t happy with the new marketing campaign.”
Jack then responded by making a few more jokes about his “bowls.” Instead of replying, the other man just sighed.
Unsurprisingly, their clever attempt at humor left some people utterly infuriated. Following the video’s release, for instance, David Griner, who is an editor at the marketing news site Adweek, published an article on the website criticizing the company for what he called a “tone-deaf idea” in the “Me Too” era.
“Juvenile humor is still okay…What’s not okay, especially after all the tales of hostile work environments that have been highlighted by the #MeToo movement, is an ad that celebrates sexual innuendo in the workplace, which is exactly what Jack in the Box and agency David&Goliath have done with a new ad called ‘Jack’s Bowls,’” argued Griner at the start of the article.
Later on, he asserted that the “insidiousness” of humor that is frequently off-color and sexualized “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.”
After pointing this out, the editor explained that while it’s possible for creatives to still make genital jokes and sexual innuendos, “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.”
To underscore his point before concluding, he added, “instead, you’re putting your workplace culture on display and saying, ‘We think this is totally OK in the office.’”
Many, however, would consider Giner’s reasoning to be absolutely ridiculous. Just because an advertisement uses sexually-suggestive humor doesn’t mean that they are not wholly opposed to any and all sexual misconduct.
In fact, the fast food company released a statement in response to the sensitivity making it clear that they do not support any kind of sexual harassment.
Specifically, they stated, “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.”
Sadly, misguided anger is quite common. Several weeks ago, for instance, the Montgomery Biscuits baseball team sparked a massive amount of outrage after announcing that they would be holding a “Millennial-friendly” night-time event.
To clarify, they explained that by “millennial-friendly,” they meant that they will be giving away participation ribbons and have certain areas to take selfies or nap.
In response to the unnecessary intolerance, though, the baseball team, quite hilariously, doubled down on their idea and made a mockery of all the anger.
Clearly, countless people appear to have been targeted by what many would label as a kind of recreational outrage. Hopefully though, more and more people will start to realize how absurd their anger is as they continue to go after increasingly trivial things.