Jack in the Box Wants You To Crash Your Car (Figuratively Speaking)

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Jack in the Box Crave Crasher
Jack in the Box Crave Crasher Credit: Jack in the Box

Jack in the Box has a new way for fans to deepen their cravings for the brand's burgers and other items: they can crash cars.

The fast-food chain is introducing an online video game called Crave Crasher next week that lets players navigate the retro-style red Crave Van seen in the chain's commercials down city streets while trying to dodge other vehicles and turn corners.

In the TV ads, which began airing in March, a special patrol in the van monitors people's cravings and rushes to bring the food people say they are in the mood for. Jack, the brand's giant-headed mascot, delivers the items, often colliding with objects along the way.

The game is a more direct means for diners to interact with the brand, said Chief Marketing Officer Iwona Alter.

It's the latest way Jack in the Box is trying to stand out with tech-focused ideas. Other food chains have introduced online games, such as retro-styled Colonel Sanders game from KFC and a "Guac Hunter" game from Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Jack in the Box's sales of late have been on their own crash course. Same-store declined 0.2% in the latest third quarter. And earlier this month the company predicted same-store sales would be flat to down 2% in the current fourth quarter. That could result in a fiscal 2017 same-store sales decline of about 0.5%, following a 1.2% increase in fiscal 2016.

The company's weak showing came as larger players fared better, including a second-quarter same-store sales gain of 3.9% at industry leader McDonald's.

"The past year we obviously are paying attention to how our sales have performed, but all I can say is that we are super excited about what's to come," says Alter.

Jack in the Box has been looking for other ways to jack up sales as well. It delivers with DoorDash, and the duo recently launched a delivery robot device.

Jack in the Box Crave Crasher
Jack in the Box Crave Crasher Credit: Jack in the Box

Along with the game, the chain is promoting items such as three flavors of $3 Munchie Mash-Ups. Those new items "are a smashing success," said Alter. Munchie Mash-Ups flavors include Jack'd Jalapeno Hash -- hash browns, white cheese sauce, jalapenos, bacon and pepper jack cheese.

"We see consumers adding it on and coming to buy it just as a standalone," she says.

The Jack in the Box game will be featured in the chain's social and online marketing, but there are no plans to feature it in TV spots, said Alter, who became Jack's chief marketing officer in October after roles including, most recently, VP-product marketing.

Jack in the Box said it worked with its creative agency David&Goliath and game developer Templar Games on the web-based game.

San Diego-based Jack in the Box has more than 2,200 restaurants in the U.S. The company's U.S. sales rose 2% to nearly $3.5 billion last year, according to Technomic. Jack in the Box spent about $39.5 million on U.S. measured media in the first half of 2017 after spending close to $85.8 million in 2016, according to data from Kantar Media.

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