, UK
Photo provided. /Pizza Hut

Learning to market at the ‘speed of culture’ is crucial to success Pizza Hut exec says

Pizza Hut UK’s new CMO says she is passionate about community-centric culture marketing.

In her over 15 years of marketing experience, Jana Ulaite, said that regardless of the brand few things remain consistent across the board: listening to your customers, and staying honest and authentic.

Jana, recently appointed as Pizza Hut UK, Ireland, & France’s Chief Marketing Officer has worked primarily in the entertainment and gaming industry before jumping to QSR. She has worked with brands including TikTok, Apple, Electronic Arts, Square Enix, and was most recently the Vice President of Marketing at tech company Tempest.
In an interview with QSR Media, Jana talked to QSR Media about the changes in the last 15 years and what she hopes to bring to the table to take Pizza Hut to the next level.

QSR Media: What have you learned in your 15 years of experience?

Throughout my career, I feel fortunate to have worked for some fantastic companies at different stages of their lifecycle. From Apple, an established global brand with a loyal customer base, to TikTok - a totally new brand, which has suddenly become a household name! But there are a few things that remained consistent across the board, regardless of the brand and the point of its lifecycle: listening to your customers, staying honest and being authentic.

The way we communicate with customers has changed so much over the past 15 years. Technological advancements have played a role here in helping to shape customers’ needs, wants and behaviours. For example, when I first started working in tech, the likes of Nokia and WAP were dominating the market, and the primary use of the phone was to call and text. We can now speak to customers in so many different ways and have had to adapt how we market and engage with people.

I am passionate about community-centric culture marketing. This has been a real learning for me, as I’ve gained a deeper understanding of how to market with the ‘speed of culture.’ With evolving consumer trends and cultural shifts, brands need to keep these front of mind so they can stay relevant, and authentic and connect with their audiences in a meaningful way.

How do you plan on leveraging what you learned from the tech, entertainment, and gaming industry in your position as the new CMO?

Pizza Hut won the hearts of customers across the globe and became an iconic brand. With our marketing, we want to continue serving great quality pizza to our existing customers and reach new audiences through relevant touchpoints that people see and engage with in their everyday lives. Leveraging technology will be key to delivering these messages and reaching today’s modern consumer.

What opportunities do you see for Pizza Hut in each of the markets you are in?

At the heart of Pizza Hut’s success and longevity is a passion for listening to our communities – customers, employees, partners and franchisees – who come to us for our signature flavours and that familiar, comforting experience.

At a time where so many brands are fighting for a slice of awareness, Pizza Hut has stood the test of time; we are the trusted brand that delivers the quality that our customers know and love.

Pizza is unique in that it is universal and personal – it is loved by all, but customisable for individual preferences. It brings people together from different backgrounds and different generations, and not many foods can do that. This positions us well as a brand with a product that brings so much magic and joy – who doesn’t love pizza! 

What challenges do you anticipate in repositioning Pizza Hut's brand, and how do you plan to overcome them?

There is always the challenge for brands to move at the speed of cultural change and stay relevant. On top of this, we have the aftermath of the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis, so there will of course be things to consider.

But we feel ready to step up. We know that consumers want to engage with brands that offer a quality, great-tasting product, as well as those that continue to deliver value and provide comfort - staying true to their core values. Pizza Hut has always been one of those brands. We’ve seen that people, particularly the younger generation, crave that shareable moment and connection with one another through the joy of pizza. 

What are some of the changes in the past year that you think would be significant for Pizza Hut's brand positioning?

Nowadays, I think consumers are more thoughtful when it comes to how they engage with brands. People look at brands and want to connect with them on an emotional level. But they also want them to be relevant, convenient and of good value.

The past few years have been challenging for everyone all over the world and as a result, we’ve evolved. People have become more considered with their actions, which extends to how we market and how we communicate. Brands need to offer something that people can trust, and deliver on that trust. In our case, it’s bringing people delicious pizza at great value and that familiar, comforting experience every single time – trust and joy are our secret ingredients.

What will be your focus for Pizza Hut in the next year?

We have a clear vision – to be the number one choice in pizza: serving our communities, providing a great working environment for people, and partnering closely with our franchise partners. To do this, we will continue to be intentional, and innovative, and listen to our customers. We are passionate about what we do and are excited to continue connecting people through the shared joy and magic of pizza.

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