Jack in the Box Has Dropped the Ad Agency Created to Run Its Account

Secret Weapon Marketing invented iconic Jack character

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Dick Sittig—the ad industry veteran who created the Energizer Bunny and Jack Box, spent more than two decades crafting campaigns for the Jack in the Box burger chain and founded an agency based on its business—will no longer be the voice of the brand or its mascot.

The West Coast fast-food chain officially parted ways with Sittig's agency, Secret Weapon Marketing, last month and will now work with Los Angeles creative shop David&Goliath, which joined the client's roster in early 2015 and created its "Legendary" ad for Super Bowl XLIX.

A brand representative told Adweek: "As the Jack in the Box brand continues to evolve, we will be ending our relationship with creative agency Secret Weapon Marketing."

In late 2014, the chain launched a creative review after working with Sittig for 20 years (first when he was with Chiat\Day Los Angeles and later when he left that agency and took the Jack in the Box business with him). At the time, the client said Secret Weapon would remain its lead agency, but it wanted to reach out to other shops in the interest of promoting a new product launch and developing future campaigns.

Sittig first won attention from the advertising community in 1987 when he earned a Gold Lion at the pre-Cannes International Advertising Film Festival for a Joe Isuzu campaign. (He created that while he was an associate creative director at New York's Della Femina, Travisano & Partners.) He later achieved marketing immortality by playing a formative role in the 1989 debut of the Energizer Bunny, which went on to appear in more than 100 ads and win multiple awards for DDB.

Sittig then moved to the Chiat organization where he took over creative for a Jack in the Box still suffering from the bad press that followed a 1993 E. Coli outbreak. He developed the Jack Box character, directed the first ad and provided the voice of the mascot. When the client's contract ended and the agency won Taco Bell, he took the business and launched Secret Weapon (originally called Kowloon Wholesale Seafood Co.). "Jack's Back" went on to become one of the longest-running fast-food campaigns in history.

On its homepage, Secret Weapon states that "we limit ourselves to three clients," and Jack in the Box has always provided a majority of the agency's revenue. The other two clients currently listed on the site are 1-800-DENTIST and a local automobile sales group called SoCal Honda Dealers.

In 2005, Sittig told Adweek that he simply prefers to run a smaller operation, saying, "We never have more than three clients; it's a pretty unique business model. Clients never get lost in the shuffle."

Regarding the work produced by Sittig and his agency, Jack in the Box said, "We have the utmost respect and appreciation for Secret Weapon Marketing's contributions to the growth of our brand and our business over the last 20 years, and have truly valued their partnership."

The brand has ended its relationship with Secret Weapon, but it is not quite ready to call David&Goliath its creative agency of record. A brand representative said, "David & Goliath has been working with Jack in the Box over the last 10 months, and we are currently working with them to determine our formal relationship moving forward."

Ultimately, the client—like so many others—simply wanted a new perspective. Longtime employee Keith Guilbault was promoted to the CMO role in late 2013, and the brand (which also owns the Qdoba Mexican Grill chain) has increased its market share in recent years as bigger competitors like McDonald's and Burger King struggle.

Jack in the Box has not given hints regarding the direction of future campaigns. The brand representative says that "as the Jack in the Box brand moves forward, we continue to further refine our marketing communication strategy."

Adweek has been unable to reach representatives from Secret Weapon Marketing for comment on the news.

@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.