By Nichola Groom
LOS ANGELES, March 16 (Reuters) - After nearly 20 years of serving breakfast all day, hamburger chain Jack In The Box Inc. JBX.N is finally getting around to telling customers about it.
The company, keen to defend its breakfast business amid tougher competition, launched an aggressive advertising campaign this month to let consumers know they can satisfy their cravings for french toast sticks or egg and sausage sandwiches at any time of the day.
At the center of the campaign is a new breakfast mascot -- a man dressed as a croissant egg sandwich -- to complement the company's round-headed "CEO" spokesman, Jack, who will also appear in the ads. The campaign is on TV, in print ads and has its own dedicated Web site, breakfastservedallday.com.
The move by the San Diego-based chain — which is dwarfed by rivals McDonald’s Corp. (MCD.N) and Burger King Holdings Inc. BKC.N — comes as competition among fast-food companies to reel in breakfast customers becomes increasingly heated.
McDonald’s, the world’s largest restaurant chain, in the last year has placed a greater emphasis on its breakfast menu. It introduced a new, stronger coffee blend and is putting more of its marketing muscle behind promoting breakfast.
Other chains have followed suit. Burger King last month introduced a menu with 10 breakfast items starting at $1 each, and Wendy’s International Inc. WEN.N recently said it would introduce a breakfast menu nationwide.
Breakfast is a profitable business because ingredients like eggs and cheese are less expensive than beef and chicken, and for Jack in the Box, serving breakfast all day is a way that the chain, with 2,000 restaurants, can stand out in the crowd.
The chain already sees consistent sales of breakfast items outside of morning hours, Chief Marketing Officer Terri Graham said in an interview.
McDonald’s, which stops serving breakfast at 10:30 a.m., has said that a new layout in its restaurants could make all-day breakfast possible, though that is still years away.
The increasing buzz around breakfast has prompted Jack in the Box to introduce several new products in the last year, including buttermilk biscuit sandwiches and the Meaty Breakfast Burrito.
But this is the chain’s first effort to advertise breakfast, though it has been a part of its menu for decades, Graham said.
“There is a very big market for breakfast,” Graham said. “People grabbing breakfast on the go is becoming part of their routine, and we wanted to capitalize on that.”
((Editing by Braden Reddall; Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel:+1-213-955-6755)) Keywords: JACKINTHEBOX BREAKFAST/
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