Papa John’s CMO Karlin Linhardt Is Out After Just 8 Months

The pizza chain has reshuffled most of its C-suite

Papa John's signage and store
Linhardt will be leaving Papa John's to "pursue other opportunities," according to the company.
Getty Images

Papa John’s is revamping its leadership team—again.

The pizza chain announced that global CMO Karlin Linhardt would be stepping down after being with the company for less than a year. He’d taken on the role in March, replacing then-CMO Brandon Rhoten, who was only with the company for roughly a year himself before stepping down.

Along with Linhardt’s departure, Papa John’s announced that Mike Nettles, its chief operating and growth officer, would be stepping down, along with Joe Smith, who’s served as the company’s CFO for nearly two decades. Per Papa John’s, Smith will continue to oversee the company’s marketing efforts into the new year while the chain searches for his replacement.

Taking Linhardt’s place is Max Wetzel, who acted as the vice president of consumer brands at PPG Industries. As the new face of Papa John’s marketing efforts, Wetzel will be responsible for the chain’s marketing strategy, as well as product innovation, customer experience and heading up a new “project management office,” per the company. He’ll step into the role on Nov. 18.

This shake-up is only the latest the chain has faced since 2018, when founder and longtime CEO John Schnatter was caught dropping a racist slur during a public relations training call with the brand’s marketing agency. He quickly resigned, leading Papa John’s to cycle through two different CEOs—Steve Ritchie and Rob Lynch—over the past two years.

The chain also switched creative agencies in August, dropping Endeavor Global Marketing for Camp + King. Previously, Papa John’s worked with Laundry Service, but that relationship ended after Schnatter accused of the shop of extortion.

Since Schnatter’s departure, the brand has tried to salvage its image with a campaign that revolves around diversity and inclusion, focused on its franchise owners and managers. The brand’s chief of diversity, equity and inclusion, Victoria Russell, spoke with Adweek last month about how things have changed in the past year.

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