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Pizza Hut Adds Two Top Marketing Executives: Global Chief Brand Officer And US Chief Marketing Officer


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Pizza Hut has announced the addition of two key marketing executives to its leadership team, marking a significant step in the brand’s ongoing efforts to enhance its global and U.S. market presence. Kalen Thornton has been named Global Chief Brand Officer, while Melissa Friebe will be Chief Marketing Officer for Pizza Hut U.S.

From June 10, Kalen Thornton will assume the Global Chief Brand Officer role at Pizza Hut, reporting directly to Pizza Hut Division Chief Executive Officer Aaron Powell. Thornton will steer Pizza Hut’s global brand strategy in this pivotal position and spearhead marketing efforts across 110 markets and territories. His mission is to enhance the brand’s relevance and foster engaging customer connections through both physical and digital platforms, ensuring that Pizza Hut remains a cultural icon.

Thornton brings a wealth of marketing expertise to Pizza Hut, having most recently served as Vice President of Sports and Entertainment Marketing for PepsiCo North America. His strategic use of media, content, and activation investments significantly boosted PepsiCo’s beverage portfolio growth. Before this, Thornton held key marketing leadership roles with Nike and the Jordan brand, where he spearheaded transformative brand initiatives over a decade.

“Kalen is a visionary and a proven leader who understands how to create memorable moments for consumers,” said Aaron Powell. “With a strong record of building celebrated global brands, Kalen is the right leader to help us connect a new generation through the joy of pizza. I am thrilled he will join our team and help us take Pizza Hut to the next level.”

Thornton expressed his excitement about his new role: “I believe creativity, community, and culture bring people together. I’m humbled at the opportunity 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.”

In addition to Thornton’s appointment, Melissa Friebe will join Pizza Hut as the Chief Marketing Officer for the U.S., reporting to incoming Pizza Hut U.S. President Carl Loredo. Friebe transitioned from Taco Bell, where she spent nearly three decades in various roles, most recently as Chief Brand Strategy Officer. In her new position, Friebe will oversee all marketing aspects for Pizza Hut’s U.S. business, succeeding Lindsay Morgan, who is departing after over eight years with the brand.

“I am proud and excited that Pizza Hut is attracting top talent in the industry, and I’m confident that Kalen and Melissa will do great things in their new roles,” Powell commented. “I’m also very grateful for the contributions that Lindsay Morgan has made to the Pizza Hut brand over the last many years, including our record-breaking World’s Largest Pizza activation and the successful launch of Melts, and we wish her well in her future endeavors.”

Strategic Vision and Market Impact

The appointments of Kalen Thornton and Melissa Friebe reflect Pizza Hut’s vision to enhance its marketing leadership and drive growth through innovative and consumer-centric strategies. As Global Chief Brand Officer, Thornton will focus on maintaining the brand’s global appeal while fostering solid connections with diverse customer bases worldwide. His leveraging media and content expertise will be critical in ensuring Pizza Hut remains a beloved and culturally relevant brand.

As Chief Marketing Officer for the U.S., Friebe will bring her extensive experience from Taco Bell to drive marketing strategies that resonate with American consumers. Her leadership is expected to enhance customer engagement and drive sales through personalized marketing efforts and a deep understanding of consumer preferences.

The addition of Kalen Thornton as Global Chief Brand Officer and Melissa Friebe as Chief Marketing Officer for the U.S. heralds a new era of strategic growth and brand development for Pizza Hut. With their extensive backgrounds and proven leadership in the marketing domain, both executives are set to elevate Pizza Hut’s marketing strategy. This move bolsters the company’s leadership team and underscores its commitment to maintaining a robust and relevant brand presence in both global and U.S. markets.

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