Karlin Linhardt is now tasked with turning around brand sentiment at the pizza chain after a public battle with former CEO and Chairman John Schnatter last year led to a steep decline in sales. Linhardt, a restaurant industry veteran, has held senior marketing roles at both Subway and McDonald’s over the course of his career.
“Karlin is a seasoned marketing executive who I am confident will contribute to our ‘Better Ingredients. Better Pizza’ brand value proposition,” Papa John’s CEO Steve Ritchie said, in a statement. “The addition of Karlin is one of the many significant steps we’ve taken to improve our brand differentiation.”
Papa John’s launched a new marketing strategy earlier this month highlighting a new lineup of specialty pizzas, including a meatball pepperoni option. It’s the latest attempt by the company to grow foot traffic. In the fall of 2018, Papa John’s heavily advertised limited time offers, a new loyalty program, and individual franchisees’ success stories with limited success.
The pizza chain said on its fourth quarter earnings call last month that it will up advertising spend this year to push new offerings and its fresh ingredients mantra. Funds will predominantly come from franchisee contributions to its national marketing fund as well as a portion of Starboard Value LP’s recent $200 million investment in the company.
“I’m a fan of Papa John’s high-quality product and I look forward to helping tell that quality story to customers in new ways,” Linhardt said.
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