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Nuggs for Papa John's: Pizza Chain Poaches Wendy's Ad Chief

Under Rhoten, #NuggsforCarter Became a Phenom

By Published on .

Brandon Rhoten
Brandon Rhoten Credit: Papa John's

Papa John's International is naming Brandon Rhoten its global chief marketing officer, filling a role that had been vacant at the pizza chain since 2015.

Rhoten was most recently VP-advertising, media and digital/social at Wendy's International. He had gained increasing responsibilities at Wendy's since joining the burger chain in 2011 and was a key player in its social media efforts, including this year's #NuggsforCarter phenomenon.

At Papa John's, Rhoten is responsible for domestic and international marketing and reports to President-Chief Operating Officer Steve Ritchie.

"He is a disruptor in the quick-service restaurant industry, and we are excited for him to further enhance Papa John's brand relevancy and quality positioning across our marketing channels globally," Ritchie said in a statement.

Papa John's appears to be filling a post that has been vacant for nearly two years. In 2015, CMO Bob Kraut left Papa John's after less than two years in the job. Robert Thompson was promoted to the role of senior VP-marketing in 2015. Thompson joined the company in 1999, and prior to his senior VP role was most recently VP-brand planning and analysis.

Papa John's ads are perhaps best known for featuring the company's founder, chairman, and CEO, John Schnatter. They also often feature Peyton Manning and J.J. Watt.

Papa John's has worked with Grey on creative, Initiative on media and Edelman on public relations.

Papa John's is growing but remains far behind Pizza Hut, Domino's, and Little Caesars when it comes to total U.S. sales. Papa John's was named the 2017 Harris Poll EquiTrend Restaurant pizza chain of the year earlier this month, which marked a return to the top in the poll for Papa John's. It last held the title in 2012, followed by Pizza Hut holding the title for four consecutive years.

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