After Major League Baseball suspended the Papa Slam promotion, which had been in collaboration since 2016, the news of John Schnatter resigning was out. Afterward, on Thursday, the Miami Marlins also broke its relations and promotions with Papa John’s. Therefore on, late Wednesday, Papa John’s made a statement of appointing Olivia Kirtley, lead independent board director, as the new chairman in the upcoming week.
Who is Papa John?
John Schnatter was the CEO and founder of Papa John’s Pizza and the company’s public face. He founded Papa John’s in Jeffersonville, Indiana, after installing an oven at his father’s tavern. He started his franchise in 1984, after which he was known as “Papa John.”
But after he got fired due to controversies against him, the company decided to change its name. John used the n-word in a conference call. The company’s name, which was used as “Papa John’s” for marketing from now will know as “Papa John’s” to all customers after removing the apostrophe.
Schnatter’s NFL Controversies
However, Schnatter responded to the renaming of the brand by saying, “They can try as they may; they can’t have Papa Johns without Papa John.” His first controversial statement was made in 2017, after criticizing the NFL for handling the National Anthem kneeling protests sponsored by Papa John’s. Schnatter then stepped down as CEO in 2018.
During some interviews, Schnatter said that he has been trying to get rid of the n-word from his vocabulary and also stated that he never intended to be a racist. Since this is not the first time, John has been in the news for controversies.
After the NFL controversy, months later, he was asked to get on a conference call to give him some insights into not creating further public relations problems. But, he again used the n-word on the call. He was criticized all over Twitter for using the n-word.
The Conference Call
Some of Papa John’s executives and the agency Laundry Service arranged a conference call where Schnatter made his controversial statements. The call was put as training for Schnatter to prevent future PR issues created by him.
On the call, he was asked ‘how he would keep a distance from online racist groups’ to which he replied ‘by taking down the statement he made to the NFL.’ He also complained about how Sanders never faced public backlash and added, ‘Colonel Sanders called blacks n-.’
Moreover, on that call, Schnatter also mentioned growing up in Indiana, where people drag African-Americans from trucks till they die. He said that to show his remorse for the incident, but most people on the call found the statements offensive. After the incident, Casey Wasserman, the owner of Laundry Service, embed the contract with Papa John’s. Since the remarks, the company’s shares have taken a fall of 25% of the total shares.
What Happened After That?
The controversies sure made John Schnatter a hero of the ‘alt-right’ movement. But, he was asked by the pizza franchise’s board of directors to resign as chairman and cut all ties with the company. He later apologized for what he had said about racism, to which Wasserman and Laundry Service denied to comment.
He also said that on the conference call, he was clearing the air of what he had said about racism, but his statements were altered and used against him to damage his company’s brand. He also asked the media to correct the false statements made against him.
Papa John, which was expanded globally to over 5000 locations over the years with an annual turnover worth $1.7 billion; however, due to Schnatter’s controversial statements, suffered a considerable loss. He made the company lose its market value of as much as 59% on Wednesday to a twelve months low value. The company on Thursday morning, made an effort to cover the losses by 11%, recovering all of $96.2 million.
However, John Schnatter is no longer the CEO or chairman of the company’s board of directors; he is still linked to the company’s image. Schnatter manages to feature himself on the company’s pizza boxes. He also remains on the company’s board and owns a stake of 24% in the company. Comment below if you love Papa John’s Pizza.