War Games: How Jack in the Box “Won” the Chicken Sandwich Wars

jack in the box

“Can anyone own chicken? Jack in the Box can — and does! Learn about their lighthearted salvo in the ongoing chicken wars.”

Entering into the great chicken sandwich wars currently being played out in major restaurant chains across North America brings to mind a quote from Joshua, the voice of the WOPR computer in the 1981 film War Games: “The only winning move is not to play.”

Or is it?

A little less than a year ago, Jack in the Box entered the fray with two Cluck sandwiches. More recently, the popular chain rolled out two new versions of the Cluck to satisfy diners with a hankering for the original white meat. But how could these new offerings gain ground in an already long-simmering conflict? As it turns out, it was through an unlikely “land grab” in the Last Frontier.

Jack in the Box “bought” the tiny town of Chicken, Alaska, for the “poultry” amount of 10,000 Cluck sandwiches. Okay, they didn’t really buy the town. However, Jack in the Box partnered up with the fine folks (all 17 of them!) residing in the gold-mining town. 

Ryan Ostrom, the chief marketing officer of Jack in the Box, says, “Over the last two years, we’ve witnessed QSR brands battle it out over who has the best chicken sandwich. The ‘Chicken Wars’ have been all the craze and we think it’s a ridiculous ‘war’ and discussion.” However, when they were preparing to launch their new sandwiches, Ostrom and his team saw an opportunity to go to battle, albeit in a light-hearted way.

“Lots of our competitors have good chicken sandwiches and our new Cluck Sandwich is great, but one brand can’t own chicken. As we were having those discussions, that’s when the thought about finding a way to own chicken – while still poking fun at the wars – came into play,” he says. The team stumbled across a small town called Chicken, Alaska, prompting a light-bulb moment. “We thought…is it really as simple as a Google search? Our competitors are fighting it out, but we just have to buy this small town to own chicken,” Ostrom states. 

To help “the French Riviera of Alaska” overcome the lingering effects of the pandemic, Jack in the Box donated $10,000 to Chicken, Alaska, for bragging rights – and a fun commentary on the feud being played out in the media and in diners’ hearts and stomachs. 

Ostrom connected with town owners Chicken Sue and her son Max to get their blessing on the campaign, and, he says it was clear from the get-go that “this was a natural partnership and they were just as excited as we were about the idea.” The synergy was instant as neither Jack in the Box, which prides itself on being “a curly fry in a world of regular fries”, nor Chicken, Alaska, take themselves too seriously. With Sue and Max all in, Ostrom reveals, “The script just flowed from there.”

Jack in the Box structures its campaigns on the CRAVED principle: Cultural, relevant, authentic, visible, easy, and distinctive. The Chicken, Alaska, effort checks all those boxes – and then some. “This is an authentic partnership and we’re proud to call them our new friends,” he says.

The donation came about during “negotiations” as Ostrom came to understand the hardships the pandemic had wrought on the hamlet and its citizens. “We learned how the pandemic impacted the town and we wanted to help out. We hope our $10,000 donation goes a long way and that this partnership is long-lasting,” he says. “We had a lot of fun pulling this together with them.”

To learn more about Jack and the Box and Chicken, Alaska, visit JackOwnsChicken.com

About Brizo Data, Inc.: Brizo Data helps the foodservice industry by providing the strategic data you need to win in your market. We empower restaurant vendors and restauranteurs with better data for Business Intelligence, Market Research, and Competitive Analysis. Brizo monitors the online footprint of every food serving establishment in the US and Canada – from social media presence, online reviews, menu items, market composition, and even technological choices.

For more information, questions or to set up a free trial contact cheers@brizodata.com or click here ‘Get Started for FREE’ .