Meet Emily Chong, Pizza’s Hut new CMO bringing the Modern Pizza Experience

Emily Chong who was previously the deputy GM of Marketing at Pizza Hut, was appointed as the new Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) mid-March this year. She replaced previous CMO, Jean Ler who according to A+M, left her position to focus on her healing business. 

Emily’s career began with Cadbury before her experience led her to Unilever (Sunsilk) where she continued to strengthen its market leadership through engaging brand communications work. She was then appointed as the Marketing Manager at Kimberly Clark (Family Care Category) where she played a key role in setting the business direction of the portfolio, with P&L responsibilities, had successfully transformed its margin structure through brand architecture mapping work and consumer insights underpinning the innovations roadmap roll-out. 

Emily Chong (left) and Jean Ler (right) pose during the 2019 Malaysian CMO Awards night held at the Sime Darby Convention Center.

Prior to joining Pizza Hut Malaysia 3 years ago, Emily had a short stint with PETRONAS Lubricant Asia Pacific team which, according to her, expanded her experience and vision beyond Malaysia, with a new set of marketing environment and challenges. 

“My mentor once said, ‘sales over night, brand over time’ and in the case of Pizza Hut, you have to strike both at the same time to turnaround the brand and grow the business” – Emily Chong

After taking on her new role at Pizza Hut, in an exclusive interview with MARKETING Magazine, Emily shared the different ways her prior role as deputy GM has prepared her for the role as CMO. 

When Emily first joined Pizza Hut, she was part of the team that was tasked to turnaround the company’s business.

“Since Pizza Hut was first launched 38 years ago in Malaysia, the critical area is to rejuvenate the brand to better relate and reconnect with consumers again,” Emily said. “The brand needed to find its purpose, renew perception and break through the clutter with the evolved and ever evolving consumer needs and competition.”

By juggling both the responsibilities of rebuilding brand equity and making purchases happen overnight through channel marketing, Emily has managed to keep her eyes on the ball. 

Emily Chong (middle) poses on stage after receiving the Special Mention award for Best Marketer in Omni-Channel Marketing, with President of Malaysian CMO Awards, Professor Harmandar Singh (left) and Head of Sales of APAC for KNOREX, Stan Chew (right) during the 2019 Malaysian CMO Awards.

“My mentor once said, ‘sales over night, brand over time’ and in the case of Pizza Hut, you have to strike both at the same time to turnaround the brand and grow the business,” Emily explained. 

According to Emily, COVID-19 has accelerated the shift to a Digital Transformative Age and people are now more than ever, pushed to continuously evolve and to adopt coping mechanisms which presents different consumer desires and needs, both functionally and emotionally. 

Hence, she sees this as a crucial time for Pizza Hut to take drastic steps with laser sharp focus on its growth strategy. 

“It is timely now to break memory codes and repivot Pizza Hut’s brand into the space of a Modern Pizza Experience in order to stay relevant and purposeful in this new age,” Emily said. “I was appointed into this role, just as the MCO started and it truly felt like a calling for me to bring Pizza Hut to the next frontier and I am blessed to have a young, dynamic team who shares the same journey and passion for the brand.”

Pizza Hut’s Marketing Team at The Singing Pizza launch event held in April last year.

As Malaysia enters the post-MCO recovery phase, Pizza Hut will continue the journey of digital transformation with initiatives planned to enhance online customer experience and expand accessibility for its customers to enjoy their pizzas.

“It is also crucial for the brand to connect emotionally with Malaysians in this challenging time, Emily said. “The lifestyle change and constant uncertainties creates new social needs and desires and it is only right for brands to reach out empathetically and support the community during this time.”

Emily added that two of Pizza Hut’s recent initiatives, The #TerangiRamadhan and Salam Syawal campaigns were created to bring about much needed hope and positivity when Malaysians celebrated Hari Raya Aidilfitri under unprecedented circumstances.