- Papa John's International Inc. has named Brandon Rhoten as its new global CMO, according to a company news release. Rhoten previously served as vice president of advertising, media and digital/social for Wendy's International, and the brand grew same-store sales for 17 consecutive quarters during his tenure there.
- Rhoten will lead all domestic and international marketing for the pizza company and will report to President and COO Steve Ritchie.
- Rhoten was called a "disrupter in the QSR industry" by Ritchie in the release, who said he was a key contributor to Wendy's resurgence in the quick serve restaurant hamburger category through advancing its brand positioning, creative, media and digital marketing and social media presence. Ritchie specifically said Wendy’s social media presence is "now renowned."
Fast food and quick-serve restaurant sales have generally been down of late, which might be partially due to the changing eating habits of young demographic groups like millennials, who are known for being more mindful about healthy, natural food choice. Social media and digital marketing are quickly becoming the key way QSR brands are trying to recapture young eaters' attention, and Wendy's became a standout example in the space during Rhoten's time at the company.
Wendy's official Twitter account has gained positive recognition for its uniquely sassy, often direct or even confrontational branding, and has been tied to viral sensations like the #NuggsforCarter hashtag, where one teen broke the platform's record for most retweets after requesting Wendy's give him a year's supply of its chicken nuggets.
Papa John's likely hopes to capture some of Wendy's digital success for itself and extend its own branding past well-known TV spots, which often feature founder John Schnatter and celebrity athletes like Peyton Manning. The company experienced a rocky first quarter, which COO Ritchie noted could be partially attributed to lower ratings around NFL games, per CNBC.