- Jack in the Box partnered with singer-dancer Jason Derulo on a virtual restaurant called One in a Milli that will be exclusively available to diners in Los Angeles via Uber Eats, per details emailed to Marketing Dive.
- The One in a Milli restaurant, available June 14-28, will feature menus inspired by "Milli Meals," Derulo's tradition wherein he uses bizarre ingredients to celebrate each million follower milestone on TikTok. Diners outside of LA can order a Milli Meal through the Jack in the Box mobile app for a chance to win prizes until Aug. 8.
- Jack in the Box, a fast food chain with more than 2,200 restaurants in 21 states, is the latest restaurant brand to experiment with virtual restaurants, which have surged in popularity during the pandemic but present different marketing challenges than traditional offerings.
Jack in the Box's One in a Milli offering is the fast food chain's first foray into the virtual restaurant trend, which surged during the heights of the coronavirus pandemic as brick-and-mortar eateries looked to use their kitchens while on-premise dining was limited and consumers flocked to delivery. By partnering with Jason Derulo, a singer-dancer who has revitalized his career on TikTok, the chain has a chance to connect with his 46 million-plus followers on the platform that have come to know and love his bizarre "Milli Meal" concoctions.
For Jack in the Box, the virtual restaurant is a way to meet consumer demands for its food through third-party services (in this case, Uber Eats), according to CMO Ryan Ostrom. While marketing a virtual brand in the confines of a third-party service is different than traditional marketing, the chain was still able to use its brand voice.
"The only challenging aspect of this campaign was to ensure that Jack in the Box's voice was still heard without consumers visiting us in-store or seeing our traditional branding. This was easily solved by ensuring that Jack was present in an authentic way and adding a secondary component so our consumers can still purchase bits of the One in a Milli Virtual Kitchen through our app as well," Ostrom said in emailed comments.
While the scope of the Once in a Milli virtual restaurants is limited to LA, the mobile component can extend the effort's reach and drive consumers to its app — a key way that brands, especially QSRs, can collect increasingly essential first-party data. Plus, the campaign could lead to future virtual brand offerings, a tactic embraced by SoftBank-backed startup Nextbite in its collaborations with Wiz Khalifa and George Lopez.
"This opens the doors for us to closely collaborate with other potential celebrity partners. We have the opportunity and platform to be a part of any big milestones and help celebrate in a Jack way," Ostrom said.
Along with the virtual brand, Jack in the Box is embracing the twin trend of ghost kitchens, partnering with national operator partner Reef Technology to open an initial group of up to eight ghost kitchens in three states this summer, as part of the chain's efforts to accelerate restaurant growth through digital channels, CEO Darin Harris said on the chain's Q2 earnings call.