Jackson Jeyanayagam, Chipotle Mexican Grill's director-digital marketing, has left the chain to become the first chief marketing officer of Boxed, a not-so-small startup that expects more than $100 million in revenue this year.
Mr. Jeyanayagam, who starts his new job Nov. 7 after about a year and a half at Chipotle, will report to Boxed CEO and founder Chieh Huang.
"We've tried to fly under the radar, but it's no secret now that we'll be nine figures in revenue in three years, and we've done that through very direct-response focused means, so we wanted someone to come in and help corral the brand and marketing efforts as we spend more dollars in non-direct funds," Mr. Huang said.
Boxed will do more of everything with its marketing going forward, including out-of-home, digital and TV, he added.
In addition to being a good cultural fit, Mr. Huang said Mr. Jeyanayagam is the right executive for the role because his career trajectory shows that he's "hungry to learn" and can thrive in a startup environment. Prior to Chipotle, Mr. Jeyanayagam was on the agency side, leading digital strategy at Taylor.
Mr. Jeyanayagam said once he met with the Boxed team and understood its business model, the decision to take the job "was obvious."
Chipotle was also a disruptor like Boxed, only in the quick-service restaurant space, with its high-quality ingredients at relatively low prices, Mr. Jeyanayagam added.
Chipotle is striving to turn around continued weak results after its food safety crisis, as well as the arrest on cocaine possession charges of Chief Creative and Development Officer Mark Crumpacker, who'd been the public voice of the efforts to rebound.
Mr. Jeyanayagam said those issues made his decision to leave more difficult partly because "there's a great opportunity to bring the brand back." But he was excited about the new, bigger role at Boxed, he said.
Representatives from Chipotle were not immediately available for comment regarding Mr. Jeyanayagam's departure.
While Boxed competes with the likes of Sam's Club or BJ's Wholesale Club, Mr. Huang said the target audiences are very different. According to data from Boxed, 81% of the startup's customers are between the ages of 25 and 44, whereas 60% of Sam's Club's customers are Baby Boomers and seniors.
In his new role, Mr. Jeyanayagam will work in part on expanding Boxed beyond its established urban targets, where many people don't have cars and rely on delivery.
The company has seen increased interest in suburban and rural areas, which will require different marketing, Mr. Huang said.
Mr. Huang declined to disclose exact numbers for its marketing budget, but said with nine figures in revenue this year, the amount will be "sizeable."
Boxed works with agencies including Plus Media, Veritone, 3Q Digital, Obviously and C2C Outdoor.
Mr. Jeyanayagam said he doesn't plan to come in and change everything as Boxed's first CMO, intending instead to listen, learn and look at the numbers to see what is working and what isn't. He will focus on areas including telling the brand story through compelling traditional and digital content, continuing to drive trial, expanding audiences within consumer and b-to-b audiences and consistently re-engaging with current customers.