Is Pizza Hut Gearing Up For An Agency Roster Review?


Pizza Hut today announced the hiring of Kalen Thornton as Global Chief Brand Officer and Melissa Friebe as U.S. CMO, just weeks after hiring former Wendy’s Global CMO as U.S. president. 

The appointments come amid a decline in sales at the company. In the first quarter same-store sales at the pizza chain, part of YUM! Brands, were down 7%.  



Can a review of the company’s agency roster be far off?  

It’s a rhetorical question. My guess is we’ll see the company pull the trigger on a review within the next month or two. That’s often the case when a company brings in new senior marketing talent.  

Pizza Hut spent an estimated $216 million on measured media in 2023 according to agency research firm COMvergence. 

Publicis Groupe’s Spark Foundry is the current U.S. media agency incumbent for Pizza Hut. Austin, TX-based GSD&M has been creative AOR since 2018. Last year the company appointed Mischief @ No Fixed Address as its social agency. Tracey Lock is the firm’s shopper marketing agency and Alison Brod Marketing + Communications handles PR.  

Thornton will assume his new role in June and most recently served as Vice President of Sports and Entertainment Marketing for PepsiCo North America.

Friebe joins Pizza Hut from Taco Bell, (also part of YUM!) where she served in several positions over nearly three decades with the brand, most recently as Chief Brand Strategy Officer. She succeeds Lindsay Morgan, who is departing the brand after serving more than eight years in various marketing leadership roles. 

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