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Jack in the Box and CMO Ryan Ostrom have been at the forefront of working with digital content creators in its marketing efforts, leveraging their creativity and brand fandom across the spectrum of digital channels.

Ryan Ostrom lets influencers do their own thing for Jack in the Box

Leveraging creators’ passion helps drive authentic experiences for the restaurant’s fans, and attract new ones

Jack Box has been a marketing icon for the Jack in the Box burger chain for years, but even the ping-pong-ball-headed “CEO” mascot knows when to get out of the way.

That’s especially important when the time comes to make room for social-media influencers, said Ryan Ostrom, chief marketing officer and executive VP at the San Diego-based company.

“The key is really about making sure we don’t let ourselves get in the way of partnering with influencers,” he said. “We set a wide range of guardrails, and we really want it to be as authentic as possible.”

The company has been at the forefront of working with digital content creators in its marketing efforts, leveraging their creativity and brand fandom across the spectrum of digital channels. It’s partnered with micro-influencers on college campuses, as well as big-name celebrities such as Snoop Dogg and Mark Hamill (who worked at Jack in the Box before his “Star Wars” fame).

“We firmly believe in the world of content creators, and the everyday influencers as well,” said Ostrom. “They’re part of every single part of our marketing campaigns.”

Giving influencers a wide berth to be creative helps differentiate the content that Jack in the Box’s partners post, said Ostrom.

“We let them really express our brand through their eyes,” he said. “I think what I love about the creator economy, and working with influencers, is seeing how different people think about your brand and create content around it.”

Content creators often approach Jack in the Box in ways that the company hasn’t considered, Ostrom said, such as how the brand is activated during the late-night daypart — a key target for Jack in the Box on social media — or how value-seeking customers approach the brand.

“You start getting some nuances and insights from the creator community around how they think about the brand, and we sometimes we can tap into that,” said Ostrom.

Ostrom, whose experience includes several years leading digital marketing at Yum Brands’ KFC chain, also spent several years in marketing at retail chains GNC and Sears, and before that at consumer-product brands Reebok and Nestle Purina Pet Care Co.

Restaurant marketing has always relied to a large degree on word-of-mouth, he said, and word-of-mouth has transitioned into the social media and influencer ecosphere.

“Many of our guests look at influencers as a great voice, and they watch them on the various social channels,” he said. “When done well, and authentically, I think it really helps drive the business forward.”

The keys to influencing consumer behavior when it comes to restaurants revolve around providing great tasting products and a great guest experience, however, Ostrom said.

“The more consistent we are with that taste, and the more consistent we are with that experience, the more loyal our customers become, and they come back over and over again,” he said. “Our role is to help start that consumer behavior, to get them to want to come to the store, and to use influencers to bring in people who haven't been to our brand.”

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