Pizza Hut Plots Growth Revival with New Marketing Leadership

Pizza Hut Plots Growth Revival with New Marketing Leadership
Kalen Thornton, Melissa Friebe

Pizza Hut is shaking things up in its marketing department, aiming to reignite brand passion and recapture market share. The company recently announced two key appointments: Kalen Thornton as Global Chief Brand Officer and Melissa Friebe as U.S. Chief Marketing Officer.

Thornton, a Marketing Veteran, Takes the Global Helm

Thornton will steer Pizza Hut’s global brand strategy across 110 markets and territories. Previously VP of Sports and Entertainment Marketing for PepsiCo North America, Thornton boasts a proven track record of building brand affinity through strategic partnerships and content creation. He’s also known for his successful stint as CMO of Gatorade. Before diving into the beverage business, Thornton held multiple marketing leadership roles for the Nike and Jordan brands over nearly ten years, where he was instrumental in leading transformational brands in initiatives.

Aaron Powell, CEO of Pizza Hut, is confident Thornton’s expertise aligns perfectly with the brand’s goals. “Kalen is a visionary and a proven leader who understands how to create memorable moments for consumers,” Powell said in a statement. “I am thrilled for him to join our team and help us take Pizza Hut to the next level.”

Thornton himself is enthusiastic about the opportunity. “I believe creativity, community, and culture bring people together,” he shared. “I’m humbled to contribute to Pizza Hut’s long legacy as a brand that connects across those dimensions, and I’m thrilled to help shape the future resonance and growth of this iconic brand.”

Friebe Brings Taco Bell Savvy to the U.S. Market

In the U.S., Melissa Friebe will take the reins as CMO, bringing her extensive experience from fellow Yum! Brands chain Taco Bell. Friebe transitions from her role as Chief Brand Strategy Officer at Taco Bell, where she spent nearly three decades. She succeeds Lindsay Morgan, who departs after eight years with Pizza Hut.

Leadership Changes Amidst Shifting Sales Landscape

The moves follow the recent appointment of Carl Loredo as Pizza Hut new U.S. president. Loredo had previously spent over eight years with Wendy’s and helped the chain grow its digital sales business and unseat Burger King as the number two burger chain in the country. 

With these leadership changes, Pizza Hut is hoping to reverse a recent sales slump. Last quarter, the pizza chain saw its same-store sales drop 7%, as demand lagged both in its home market and internationally. 


Media Jobs