A correction has been made in this story. See below for details.
CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Papa John's has tapped Andrew Varga as its first chief marketing officer. A 21-year veteran of Brown-Forman, Mr. Varga was most recently senior VP, director-marketing for the company's wine and spirits business in North America.
"Andrew is a savvy marketing veteran who understands the power of branding and has done an outstanding job during his career at Brown-Forman," Papa John's President Jude Thompson said in a statement. "He has significant retail and branding experience in a highly competitive environment, and I am confident in his ability to move Papa John's forward by keeping our brand on message and on strategy." Mr. Varga will report directly to Mr. Thompson.
In his role as North American wine and spirits marketing chief since 2007, Mr. Varga was responsible for 30 brands with annual sales in excess of $1 billion. For the three years prior, he was managing director-wines marketing, with global responsibility for the company's wine brands, including Fetzer. Mr. Varga held a variety of other marketing roles at the company, including director-corporate strategy and brand director-Korbel Champagne.
Before implementing the chief marketing officer role with Andrew Varga's appointment, Papa John's has relied on the marketing prowess of its charismatic founder, John Schnatter. This summer, Mr. Schnatter conducted a tour to promote the brand by searching for the 1971 Camaro he sold to bolster his father's business and ultimately launch Papa John's. The company awarded a Flatwoods, Ky., man $250,000 today as a "finder's fee" for producing the title and transfer of Mr. Schnatter's long-lost Camaro. The chain is also offering a free one-topping pizza to anyone driving a Camaro tomorrow.
Papa John's is the pizza delivery sector's third-place player, and has grown in prominence and popularity over the past decade. The chain has served as a catalyst for technological innovation for the entire sector, particularly with online ordering. Papa John's reported same-store sales essentially flat, up 0.1% for the second quarter, reported earlier this month.
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CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this story, John Schnatter's name was misspelled.