Papa John’s International Inc. announced Thursday that chief marketing officer Andrew Varga has resigned to become president of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based Zimmerman Advertising, which is the pizza chain’s agency of record.
Varga had been Louisville, Ky.-based Papa John’s CMO since August 2009, and the company has since credited its marketing as a major contributor to its same-store sales and earnings growth.
“Andrew made many outstanding contributions to the Papa John’s team, and we are pleased that he now has a wonderful opportunity to become the president at Zimmerman Advertising,” founder and chief executive John Schnatter said in a statement. “We are excited not only to continue working with the talented team at Zimmerman, but also that Andrew and his wealth of knowledge about Papa John’s and the pizza category will continue to be an integral driver of the Papa John’s brand.”
Chief operating officer Tony Thompson added that a search for a new chief marketing officer would begin immediately. At press time, an interim CMO had not been disclosed.
Papa John’s routinely credits its long-running marketing initiatives, focused on the “better ingredients, better pizza” positioning, with driving results.
The chain recently announced that it has extended its official sponsorship deal with the National Football League and the Super Bowl after an initial three-year run.
“It has been my privilege to be a part of the great Papa John’s brand for nearly four years,” Varga said in a statement. “I am very excited to continue to be involved with the quality leader in the QSR pizza segment in my new role with Zimmerman Advertising and am grateful for the positive experience and learnings from John Schnatter and the team that have helped make it possible for me to take on this new opportunity.”
Varga will start his new job with Zimmerman after a transition period of unspecified length.
Papa John’s operates 648 company-owned restaurants and franchises another 2,556 units in North America in all 50 states. Its international system includes 959 restaurants in 35 countries.