Jack's Back: Can Social Media Boost Fast-Food Sales?

SAN DIEGO -- The founder of Jack in the Box restaurants has emerged from his coma, and now the Web 2.0 world is wondering if it'll translate into more sales.

The "founder," an incredibly charming man with what appears to be a giant Styrofoam ball for a head, was out of commission as part of a viral marketing campaign.

At the campaign's viral headquarters, HangInThereJack.com, visitors could view ads, videos, sign up for e-mail alerts and post get-well messages.

In the four weeks since entering the coma, more than 77,000 get-well wishes and videos were posted online. Online videos were viewed more than 4.3 million times. More than 67,000 people signed up to receive updates on Jack's condition through the website, Jack's Facebook page and Jack's Twitter account, according to the company.

"The enthusiasm and engagement among Jack in the Box fans has been tremendous," said Terri Graham, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Jack in the Box Inc.

But the question remains: Does having thousands of Twitter and Facebook followers translate into increased sales?

"With the campaign still ongoing, it's too early to gauge its full impact, but we're very excited about the response it's received so far," Graham said.

Although it may be too early to officially tell, Graham told the San Diego Union-Tribune that social media sites help the company connect with 18- to 34-year-olds, the fast-food chain's target demographic.

"Social media is an important part of their day," Graham told the newspaper.

While success of the campaign may be hard to gauge, Scott Testa of St. Joseph's University summed it nicely for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

"Pardon the expression, but you have to think outside the box," he told the newspaper. "You have to be a little bit cutting edge if you want to generate buzz. And they have. They've gotten some buzz, positive and negative, and that's what makes it successful."

Jack in the Box has more than 2,170 restaurants in 18 states.

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