Jack in the Box tries bowling for burgers

SAN DIEGO Hoping to strike brand affinity gold by discouraging bowlers from rolling strikes, Jack in the Box Inc. is teaming with social clubs in a number of major cities to stage "GutterBowl" leagues in which the lowest score wins.

San Diego-based Jack in the Box is the operator and franchisor of the 2,170-unit namesake quick-service chain known for advertising that stars "Jack," the chain's quirky, fictitious, clown-headed chief executive mascot. It is organizing the leagues in conjunction with digital media and marketing services firm Active Marketing Group and clubs in San Diego, Los Angeles and Orange County, Calif., as well as Houston and Dallas.

The clubs, such as San Diego's Vavi Sport and Social Club, will form the leagues from among members, whose participation will net them Jack's GutterBowl shirts and other considerations, such as VIP discount cards and free-food coupons. The league champions will receive free burgers for a year from Jack in the Box, the chain said.

"Jack's GutterBowl is an innovative and fun way for our consumers to participate in a sport that our iconic namesake, Jack, would play," said Christine Willis, Jack in the Box's director of regional marketing. "This new social sport is for people who are active and enjoy something that's a little different and unconventional."

In Jack's GutterBowl, the goal is to knock down the least number of pins in a traditional bumper bowling lane, or lane with rails that keep the ball from falling into the gutter before it reaches the pins. GutterBowl leagues consist of six teams with six players each, though only four play at a time. The team with the lowest combined score across three games wins.

The leagues are supported by a promotional website at www.jacksGutterBowl.com [3].

Word of Jack in the Box's GutterBowl league aspirations comes just days after the official relaunch of the www.jackinthebox.com [4] website to focus more on food, franchising, interactive components and social networking touches. "Jack's Office" is an interactive area at the revamped website in which surfers can, among other things, watch videos, sign up for a loyalty program and have animated Jack help them pull pranks, such as call in sick on their behalf.

Carl's Jr. and Hardee's launched a similar interactive "room" at their respective websites in October. In keeping with their targeted demographic of young, hungry males, the two chains owned by CKE Restaurants Inc. of Carpinteria, Calif., dubbed their interactive space a "bachelor's pad."

Contact Alan J. Liddle at [email protected] [5].