Marco’s Pizza announces the following leadership appointments: Ben Halliwell as SVP of digital marketing; Tanisha Chea as VP of brand marketing; and Kathleen Kennedy as director of culinary innovation

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April 11, 2024 (press release) –

One of the nation’s fastest-growing pizza brands elevates its product innovation and digital prowess


Marco’s Pizza, one of the nation’s fastest-growing pizza brands, announces the appointment of three marketing leaders as it continues to drive product innovation and enhance the customer experience. Joining the team are Ben Halliwell as senior vice president of digital marketing, Tanisha Chea as vice president of brand marketing and Kathleen Kennedy as director of culinary innovation. 

After being appointed in June 2023, Chief Marketing Officer Denise Lauer hired industry experts to help drive Marco’s Pizza forward through innovative products and digital marketing advancements. As a challenger brand in the category, Lauer looks to drive continued sales growth and achieve new levels of customer engagement. 

Product innovation took center stage last year with the successful rollouts of a Magnifico Pizza line LTO, a partnership with Mike’s Hot Honey, and the launch of a new permanent menu item, the Pizzoli. Now, the focus is to build off this great momentum and continue to bring new Italian-inspired tastes to the pizza category using only high-quality, fresh ingredients.

In addition to new products, Marco’s commitment to new technology is also a top priority as the brand rolled out its Marco’s Order Management System (MOMS), a proprietary 100% cloud-based technology platform, which gives Marco’s the flexibility to customize and pivot to meet ever-changing consumer demands compared to an off-the-shelf technology stack.  

“We made great strides last year in evolving our brand strategy, digital and product innovation pipeline,” said Lauer. “Looking ahead, we have plans to launch a transformative brand strategy geared to wake up minds, hearts and tastebuds of consumers everywhere. This new team has been instrumental in bringing this vision to life and I cannot wait to show America what Marco’s is all about!”

SVP of Digital Marketing, Ben Halliwell, comes with an impressive 20-plus-year history of driving customer growth across e-commerce, performance marketing, loyalty, and digital platforms in the telecommunications and restaurant industries. Known for leading digital transformation initiatives and delivering brand affinity, he has a proven track record with several recognizable consumer brands, including Inspire Brands, HSNi, and Time Warner Cable. 

In his new role, Halliwell is excited to learn from the Marco’s team while sharing perspectives from his own experiences to build off the success that’s built Marco’s into the brand it is today. As Marco’s further solidifies its positions as one of the fastest growing pizza brands, Halliwell is responsible for enhancing the e-commerce customer experience, optimizing digital demand, paid media and creating a marketing engine to convert and engage consumers from trial through loyalty.

 Also playing a key role in Marco’s next era is VP of Brand Marketing, Tanisha Chea, and her 15-year expertise in consumer marketing and integrated multi-channel launch campaigns for restaurant brands such as Krispy Kreme, Carrabba’s Italian Grill and Taco Bell.  In addition to her brand marketing responsibilities for Marco’s, she works closely with newly appointed Chef Kennedy on overseeing new product development.

Finally, the newest addition to the Marco’s team is Director of Culinary Innovation, Kathleen Kennedy, who boasts more than 40 years of experience. Having been inspired at a young age by family members who loved to cook, she went on to hold executive chef, product development, and consulting positions for global brands such as Kraft, Starbucks, Walmart and more. Kennedy noted she knew Marco’s was a brand she could get behind because of the quality of its food. As director of culinary innovation, she looks forward to accelerating future innovations and developing, testing, and bringing new flavors to the Marco’s menu. 
With Marco’s targeting continued growth following an impressive 2023, these additions to its leadership team help strengthen its strong development support system. In addition to a network of industry leaders, Marco’s offers technology and tools to help identify territories for expansion, plus support in real estate, construction management, field operations, and information related to financing. FRANdata, a leading research and advisory firm that analyzes the franchise market, reports Marco’s 2023 FUND Score of 895 is in the top 1% of all evaluated franchise systems and is among the top three scores for all QSR brands. 

The brand’s recent performance has earned multiple awards and recognition: Ranking in Newsweek’s 2023 America’s Best Customer Service in the pizza chains category, earning a spot on QSR’s Top 50, appearing on Nation’s Restaurant News’ prestigious Top 500 ranking, and most recently claiming the No. 48 spot on Entrepreneur’s 2024 Franchise 500® ranking.

For more information on Marco’s Pizza franchise opportunities, visit or contact Beth Heminger at or 866-731-8209. 


Headquartered in Toledo, Ohio, Marco’s Pizza is one of the fastest-growing pizza brands in the United States. Marco’s was founded in 1978 by Italian-born Pasquale (“Pat”) Giammarco and thrives to deliver a high-quality pizza experience, known for its dough made from scratch and its three fresh signature cheeses. The company has grown from its roots as a beloved Ohio brand to operate over 1,200 stores in 34 states with locations in Puerto Rico and the Bahamas. Most recently, Marco’s Pizza was ranked No. 48 on Entrepreneur Magazine’s 2024 “Franchise 500” ranking. Other recent accolades include a high ranking on Newsweek’s 2023 “America’s Best Customer Service” in pizza chains list, earning a spot on QSR’s Top 50, and being featured on Nation’s Restaurant News’ prestigious “Top 500” ranking.

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