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We have the priveledge of recognizing Chris Lyn-Sue in the 2024 Marketers To Watch Series, in partnership with The Wall Street Journal, for his innovative work and leadership as Papa John’s VP and Head of International Markets.

With nearly 20 years of marketing and brand management experience, Chris has worked on several household brands in both regional and global roles—such as Bacardi, Popeyes, Grey Goose Vodka, Dewar’s Scotch Whisky, and Tequila Cazadores. In his current leadership role at Papa Johns, he manages the holistic business strategy, operations, and global marketing efforts for the brand throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America.

Are you curious about the marketing leader behind Papa Johns marketing? Keep reading to learn Chris’s perspectives on the future of marketing, the innovative work he’s been leading, his best career advice, and more.

What gives me joy outside of work

My family inspires me to continuously develop and improve. As a product of immigrant parents, I’m striving to make them proud and lay a foundation of a growth mindset for my children. Although my kids don’t seem impressed that I’ve worked with Shaq, Megan Thee Stallion, and Jamie Foxx, I like it that way. I’m sure I’ll win some props when they grow older. 

Every marketer should listen to...

The GaryVee Audio Experience, Marketing Millennials, Marketing Over Coffee, and Marketplace

Every marketer should read...

I recommend R.E.D. Marketing by Greg Creed, a book related to the QSR industry.

Future of Marketing

Q: What’s one thing coming down the marketing pike you are most excited about?

I’m most excited about the democratization of content. Creativity has become more accessible to generate and consume across video platforms and social media than ever. I anticipate the trend of creator-driven content that can be templatized and monetized as repeatable formats will allow more creators to become media companies in and of themselves. Brands that can identify genuine fits should benefit. Also, I speculate a substantial burst of creativity and competition with the proliferation of AI—whenever that may be—as anyone will be able to create compelling videos limited only by imagination and prompts. 

Q: What widely accepted “marketing truth” do you wish the industry would evolve? 

Barring appointment-to-view live events like sports—there’s been broad agreement on the slow death of linear TV, but we, as marketers and advertisers, still invest a tremendous amount of A&P in the medium. No doubt there’s a place for it, but I think we’ve got to get out of our comfort zone and aggressively pursue novel CTV, VoD, and digital video ad formats—making it more meaningful with contextual and adaptive techniques. 

Q: What’s a prediction you have for International Marketing Marketing over the next few years?

Brand partnerships have remained popular in mature markets, but emerging markets are embracing them just as rapidly, even in early product life stages. The competition for attention is fierce, and it’s about gaining share of mind in an ever-stimulated world. I believe the rapid growth of social platforms’ influence across borders will only accelerate the adoption of partnerships—specifically celebrity collaborations—and branded content internationally. As brands strive for cultural relevance and social currency to increase top-of-mind awareness and, ultimately, market share, we’ll continue to see the good, bad, and ugly that come with personality-driven marketing campaigns. 

International Marketing at Papa Johns

Q: What’s something innovative you’re working on at Papa Johns?  

We’ve recently launched the Papa Johns Cheddar Pizza throughout 23 global markets, resulting in increased social chatter and a record-breaking sales mix.

China Papa Johns International Marketing Campaign, ‘Better Get You Some,' featuring Garfield. 

Ad reads:

The limited-time product innovation was not only bold in taste and appearance but also in our approach to adapting the creative to fit the cultural nuances of each region with help from our agencies and franchise partners.

Korea Papa Johns International Marketing Campaign, ‘Better Get You Some.' 

Ad reads:

The Cheddar Pizza is our first international campaign within the new master brand platform, ‘Better Get You Some,’ which highlights the role pizza devotion plays in people’s daily lives.

Q: What’s the most pressing business challenge you’ve faced within the last year at Papa Johns, and what have you done to try to solve it?

The confluence of unfavorable macroeconomic conditions and volatile geopolitical challenges is hitting at the same time in certain regions. Due to sensitivities, these barriers cannot be easily remedied through increased comms or paid media. We continue to focus on the elements we can control, including value strategy and scenario planning, which can improve the speed of response. 

Leadership and Career Advice

Q: What leadership muscle is most important for marketers to exercise?

A great idea will remain merely an idea if one cannot influence it within an organization. At the core of great marketing is compelling storytelling, and it is more important than ever to use that internally to inspire and gain alignment. As marketers, we are trained to be consumer-centric but can miss the mark on building internal evangelists. Crafting the story for all audiences is imperative, whether it be business partners, team members, or board members. 

Papa Johns Marketing Leader, Chris Lyn-Sue, shares on his Marketers To Watch interview with Marketers That Matter,

Q: What’s the most game-changing career advice youve received?

Early in your career, it’s important to build out skills to negate opportunity areas. As you advance, pivot to lean into your innate strengths, as you’ll be far happier and more passionate about doing something in which you naturally excel. In both phases of your journey, raise your hand for challenges others avoid and use it as an opportunity to deliver. 

Marketers to Watch is a recognition series to spotlight highly innovative and forward-thinking marketing leaders in the community. If you have someone you’d like to nominate for the series, apply here.