Nielson reported that 2019’s Super Bowl produced more than 32 million social engagements across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. It’s no surprise then why many companies, including restaurants, are choosing to take a more cost-friendly, digital route over grabbing a prized (and pricey) TV slot.

Last year, Jack in the Box punted the TV ad in favor of a nontraditional promotion that featured a “Super Jack’d Monday Box” for the 14 million or so people who call in sick after the big game. The brand linked with DoorDash to offer two tacos, 10 chicken nuggets, an eggroll, seasoned curly fries, and a small drink for $6.

The 2,200-unit chain is taking a similar path for Sunday’s matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chief, electing to focus on a social stunt instead of an in-game spot. This year’s edition centers the company’s partnership with upcoming Paramount film “Sonic the Hedgehog.”

Adrienne Ingoldt, SVP, chief brand and experience officer at Jack in the Box discussed the decision with QSR, why it worked last year, and what the brand hopes to accomplish in round 2.

Let’s start with 2019. What was behind the initial decision to avoid an in-game spot?

The quick-service restaurant space has always focused on Super Bowl as one of the biggest advertising moments of the year. While we have participated in the traditional approach of an in-game spot, last year, we switched gears to something that sustained consumer attention longer than just 60 seconds. CNBC reported in 2018 that the Monday after Super Bowl cost companies $3 billion due to employee absenteeism. We developed a campaign that spoke directly to these consumer habits with a solution for those who celebrated a little too hard on Sunday. From there, we coined the day after Super Bowl, “Super Jack’d Monday” and launched the first ever Super Jack’d Monday box. It was a $6 munchie box, filled with curly fries, tacos, chicken nuggets and a small beverage—the perfect solution to a long night of celebrating, gaming or spending time with friends. From conception, we knew we wanted to address the audience differently, so we went to social media and used our Jack Pack—our social media influencer-based group, as the face of the campaign. Each member told their Super Jack’d Monday story through comedic videos that we shared across social media and digital platforms.

How successful was the social-driven campaign? And how did the Super Jack’d Monday Box resonate as a timely activation?

While everyone focused purely on game day, we celebrated our brand the days leading up to Sunday. We then had an extra push, which included a free delivery offer for Monday only. We found this to be very successful and impactful, allowing us to break through the social noise. As a brand, we have allocated our marketing spend to big Super Bowl promotions in the past, but know consumers are on their phones during the game and commercial breaks. Last year, 33 million Super Bowl viewers were on Twitter while watching the game, and we anticipate this number to rise during this year’s Super Bowl. In the true spirit of the Jack brand, we aimed to steal the show, specifically during the commercials when all other brands are running traditional advertisements.

How did 2019’s learnings influence the company’s strategy this time around?

Nielson reported that there were over 32 million social media engagements during the Super Bowl last year across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This year, we wanted to continue to play into using a “social first” approach to drive conversations surrounding our brand. We know that the Super Bowl is a cultural moment in itself, so we knew we wanted to be a part of this moment beyond just 60 seconds.

Did the move help raise awareness for Jack in the Box’s delivery platforms as well?

Absolutely. The Super Jack’d Monday campaign was one of many very successful DoorDash partnerships we’ve advertised to date. We learned that during this cultural moment, consumers want convenience, so leveraging delivery partners was a way to give the consumers what they wanted, when they wanted it. 

Specifically, on the social media front, what did Jack in the Box learn from working with micro and macro digital influencers to spread the message to less-traditional platforms?

Our influencers are a natural extension of who we are as a brand—witty and unconventional. By allowing the influencers to create scenarios authentic to their channels we saw amazing engagement and overall positive sentiment. Authenticity is key to breaking through with our consumers, so we wanted to make sure our fans and their fans knew we were talking directly to them.

Turning to 2020, talk about the partnership with “Sonic the Hedgehog.” How did that come about and why was it an ideal fit for the brand?

This year, we are partnering with the “Sonic the Hedgehog” film to introduce our new Tiny Tacos, the perfect snack for our fans who are always on the go, just like Sonic the Hedgehog.

What does Jack in the Box have planned (as much as can be shared today)?

We have an exciting “tweet to win” interactive campaign launching on Super Bowl Sunday.  During every commercial break (and there are 19 to be exact), Jack is offering fans a chance to win special prize packs with Jack and Sonic swag. We know younger audiences are constantly on the go, and using their mobile phones to consume all information, so we wanted to be there in real time. Whether checking their Twitter feed during the Halftime show, or playing a quick game on Snapchat in between classes, they will be enticed and engaged by Jack in the Box and Sonic the Hedgehog. We’re really excited to have this partnership brought to life throughout different social media and digital channels. We are continuing the fun in a gamified way that’s also socially-driven, that merges the worlds of “IRL” and social. On February 2–12, we are working with Snapchat tol launch a Sonic the Hedgehog augmented reality ring experience in high foot traffic areas of San Diego, San Francisco and Santa Monica. Fans will use Snapchat’s AR marker technology to unlock a special prize from Jack in the Box. Shortly after the Super Bowl, Snapchat and Jack in the Box are also launching an interactive lens inviting users to play a quick mobile game challenging them to act as Sonic and collect as many Tiny Tacos as possible. Scoring enough points unlocks a free delivery code for Tiny Tacos from our partners at Uber Eats. That’s all I can say right now—you’ll just have to follow @JackBox and #JacksTinyTacos #giveaways on game day on Twitter to learn more about what you can win!

More generally speaking, what is the brand finding in terms of customer engagement these days? How powerful of a tool has social become and how has Jack in the Box curated its personality to meet guests where they are?

Customer engagement is all about listening to our consumers and meeting them where they are most active in order to channel their direct interests. Since social media is the cultural apex of what is driving trends and also engagement, we continue to invest in social listening to keep up with our fans’ evolving tastes and interests.

How do you inspire visits and loyalty from social media?

We have developed a strong fanbase, and we believe maintaining an ongoing, direct and exciting dialog with our loyalists is the key to driving sales and transactions. Our spirit is fun, adventurous, fresh and off the cuff, and we bring this to life in our marketing and positioning in the quick-serve landscape.

Fast Food, Marketing & Promotions, Story, Jack in the Box