- Papa John's announced Wednesday it is restructuring its management team, according to a press release. Among other changes, recently appointed Global CMO Karlin Linhardt will be replaced by new Chief Commercial and Marketing Officer Max Wetzel, and the position will be expanded to include menu strategy, product innovation, customer experience and a new project management office, in addition to marketing.
- Wetzel's background includes senior executive roles at H.J. Heinz and paint/coatings supplier PPG Industries. Lindhardt joined the company only in March, following stints at Subway and McDonald's and filling a position that had been open for months.
- Additionally, the company named new COOs for North America and International, a new SVP for communications and corporate affairs, and the departure of the chief operating and growth officers and of the CFO, with no replacements specified yet.
The restructuring of the embattled restaurant chain's management team comes two months after the chain hired Rob Lynch, who helped turn around Arby's as president, as its new president and CEO, replacing Steve Ritchie. The moves are the latest attempts by the chain to right its ship following controversy surrounding founder John Schnatter after he used a racial slur that led to his resignation in the summer of 2018 and a sales drop of more than 7% at the end of last year.
Prior to Linhardt stepping into the CMO position this past March, where a major goal was to repair the chain's image, the position had been vacant for nine months. Under his tenure so far, efforts to restore brand trust include a TV commercial featuring former baskeball star and new board member Shaquille O'Neal and appointing Camp + King as its new agency of record.
During a conference call this week to discuss the company's latest quarterly results, Lynch pointed to the O'Neal campaign as helping the brand repair its images and said the partnership would continue.
"We have seen since launching that campaign, a positive movement across almost all of our consumer sentiment metrics that we track," Lynch said during the call. "That's a long-term investment that we've made in the health of the brand and that's an investment we're going to continue to make alongside continuing to advertise and promote the innovation and the products that we're working on currently."
Even without the need to deal with Papa John's particular turmoils, the CMO position in large companies is an increasingly volatile role as marketing executives take on a growing range of responsibilities: customer experience, customer loyalty, customer growth, and, in some cases, product innovation and employee loyalty, in addition to traditional marketing and branding tasks.
This past August, Taco Bell's global brand chief left and was replaced by two SVPs, as was McDonald's global CMO in July. In June, the CMO of Johnson & Johnson's consumer division — the first person in that role — departed, with the CMO's responsibilities divided among other managers.
In addition to the new executive team shakeup and potential new marketing directions, Papa John's said it is also looking to product innovations and partnerships with third-party delivery services to help boost the brand.