'Marketing Today' - Papa John's Brandon Rhoten

This week in “Marketing Today,” I speak with Brandon Rhoten, outgoing CMO at Papa John’s. We recorded this episode just prior to last week’s announcement of his departure. Prior to his stint at Papa John’s, he spent almost six years at Wendy’s, where he was VP for Marketing, heading up advertising, social media, and digital marketing.

During the course of our conversation, Brandon talks about the importance of establishing a brand voice to connect with consumers. “It sounds cliché,” says Rhoten, “but you’ve got to establish that voice first. Because that’s really what builds everything.” And he goes on to add, “You have to build out tools, and rules, and measurements to understand how you really are reaching and influencing someone and their behavior. And that takes some time.”



In the end, though, for Rhoten, the success of a brand hinges on the work: “You just have to be willing to believe in the work. If you’re a champion for the work, and for the people doing the work, eventually you win.”

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today” podcast include:

  • Rhoten talks about his experience and background, and, most importantly, how he learned to tell a brand story. (1:34)

  • “We didn’t have a lucky moment, we were just ready for the moment.” — The story behind #NuggsForCarter. (5:28)

  • Differentiating yourself in a category not known for differentiation. (13:12)

  • Creating content worth consuming: “The future is moving to a place where the content has more inherent value.” (21:58)

  • Rhoten on managing the customer experience across multiple contact points. (26:53)

  • Advice for marketers seeking to be a change agent. (32:22)

  • Swinging for the fences: The first time Rhoten stood up for work he loved affected his career more than anything else. (34:07)

  • Rhoten on the future of marketing: “It’s less about who has the biggest bullhorn and it’s more about who has the best thing to say, who has the most interesting thing to say.” (40:13)

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