Marianne Radley wasn't looking to leave Monster Energy. But when she was approached about a new job and found out it was with Pizza Hut, she quickly changed her mind.
"My first job, actually, was with Pizza Hut. I was a dishwasher and then a hostess, and then when I finally turned 18 I got to be a waitress," Radley says, fondly reflecting on her teenage years in Berwyn, Pennsylvania. "As a marketer for the past 20 years I've always kept an eye on the Pizza Hut brand. ... Honestly, I just felt as though the brand didn't have a consistent message."
Now at Pizza Hut, she has her work cut out for her. The chain, which turns 60 this year, ceded the top-selling pizza ranking to Domino's in 2017 and has churned through five creative agencies in less than a decade. Currently, it's searching for yet another.
"Pizza Hut the brand has lost much of its unique meaning and energy, I think, in the past 20 years," says Radley, who joined as U.S. chief brand officer in February after serving as senior VP of global marketing at Monster Energy. "The core foundation is there and the reason to believe behind the brand is there, we just have to dust them off."
Some of the focus, she says, should be on improving the company's use of data and consumer insights, and how it interacts with patrons. "We're a company that's stuck in a transaction mindset, and we need to pivot to a customer lifetime mindset," says Radley.
Pizza Hut's overhaul already includes franchisees committing more to advertising, per an agreement reached in 2017. And Pizza Hut has hired thousands more delivery drivers and introduced pouches that keep pizzas warmer. It's also testing beer delivery in several markets in Arizona, with plans to expand to California. By early May, Pizza Hut expects to have 100 stores testing beer delivery.
There are early signs of momentum. Pizza Hut's U.S. same-store sales rose 2 percent in fourth quarter of 2017, after holding steady in the third quarter following four consecutive quarterly declines, according to company reports. But the last year Pizza Hut U.S. posted a full year positive same-store sales gain was a 1 percent rise in 2015. By comparison, Domino's U.S. same-store sales have risen annually since 2009.