Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Jack is Back!

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By Shivani Singh

jackcomaJack Box, hamburger chain Jack in the Box’s snowman-faced mascot, is alive and kicking.  

Last month, the mascot was hit by a bus in an advertising spot aired during the Super Bowl. The campaign continued online for a month, with a cliff-hanger that left fast-food fans wondering whether Jack would survive. 
  
jack-logoFollowing some intrigue involving corporate underlings, Jack woke up last week to take back the reins of the company and launch its new logo that blows up the word ‘Jack,’ which is how most customers refer to the fast-food chain. 
 
The post-Super Bowl viral campaign targeted the company’s core audience of mostly 18- to 34-year-olds, who used YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to cook up millions of hits, Chief Marketing Officer Terri Graham told Reuters.  
 
The multichannel campaign was also supported by coupons. On Tuesday, the company gave a free soda and small fries to people who printed a coupon on the ‘Hang In there Jack’ site. Restaurants saw an increase in traffic on the days the coupons were offered, the company said. 

Fast-food companies have been quicker than other restaurant operators to embrace technology and social media. Rival Burger King made a splash earlier this year with its Facebook campaign that gave a free Whopper to users who dumped 10 friends.
 
The next phase of the Jack in the Box campaign is scheduled for March 16, when the company debuts a new website where users can sign up to get Jack do their dirty work — whether it’s calling in sick or breaking up with a girlfriend or boyfriend.

(Photos\Jack in the Box)

Check Out Line-Retail sector racks up more bad news

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Check out the not-so-chipper news in the retail world.

bk1Restaurant chain Burger King reported lower profits and cut its full-year forecast due to the currency fluctuations, while cosmetics and perfume companies Estee Lauder and Elizabeth Arden rang up lower, albeit better-than-expected, profits and said they would cut jobs.

Indeed, retailers overall posted the second weakest monthly same-store sales performance since Thomson Reuters began tracking the data in 2000 as heavy job losses, weakness in the U.S. housing sector and the still-tight credit markets have many consumers closing their wallets.

Dump 10 Facebook ‘friends,’ win a Whopper

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JAPAN BURGER/If ever you needed a reason to clear the dead wood from your Facebook posse, here it is: Burger King will give you a free Whopper hamburger every time you cut 10 of your “fair-weather web friends.”

But beware. While Facebook lets you anonymously eliminate your “friends,” the Burger King application notifies them when you “sacrifice” them in your quest for free fast food.

Check Out Line: Sales up at Burger King, profit misses view

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Check Out Burger King missing Wall Street views but saying sales grew 12 percent worldwide, with sales at restaurants open at least a year up 3 percent in the United States and Canada.

Lower-cost fast-food chains have benefited in the economic downturn, while higher-priced sit-down restaurant chains like Applebee’s and Chili’s Grill & Bar have been hit particularly hard, as consumers slash discretionary spending to adjust to falling home prices, a credit crunch and higher food and fuel costs.

Check Out Line: It’s a bad idea to raise the turkey you sell

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turkey.jpgCheck out why Heinz didn’t suffer like Hormel did in the past quarter.

H.J. Heinz came in with a quarterly profit that beat Wall Street expectations, helped by price increases and new product sales, while Jennie-O turkey seller Hormel Foods saw its earnings dip.

Food companies have found it tough going as commodity costs shoot up, but Hormel was particularly hard hit. The reason? It raises the turkeys that it eventually sells — meaning spiking corn feed costs hurt its results. 

Check Out Line: McDonald’s finally makes its move

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mcdfries.JPGCheck out McDonald’s Corp’s long-awaited switch to trans fat-free cooking oil in the United States and Canada.

Jim Skinner, CEO at the Golden Arches, said the world’s largest hamburger chain finished dumping the oil with artery-clogging trans fats during the last few months. Speaking to investors at the company’s annual meeting, he also promised that pies and other baked goods would also be trans fat-free by year end. 

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