John Schnatter not only founded Papa John’s Pizza. He made sure his face was everywhere.
Schnatter was the spokesperson. His face gazed out at you from the box when your pizza was delivered. And he looked down on employees via signs on store walls. Now that Schnatter has resigned amid a scandal, though, the company is quietly disowning its Papa.
The pizza chain plans to pull Schnatter’s image from its logo, TV ads, and other marketing following his resignation as chairman after reports surfaced he used the N-word during a conference call in May. (Schnatter stepped down as CEO last year after blaming poor sales on NFL protests during the national anthem.)
Schnatter remains on the board of Papa John’s and is still the company’s largest shareholder, but publicly he’s expected to fade away, reports the AP. The question is: How quickly can Papa John’s make that happen? While there are some TV ads that don’t feature Schnatter, changing the image on pizza boxes and in the corporate logo is more difficult.
Schnatter’s no longer on the front page of the Papa John’s Website, but his image dominates the “About Papa John’s” page.
The chain wasn’t unaware of the risk presented by having Schnatter so prominent in its marketing. In regulatory filings, it frequently said that its business could be harmed if Schnatter’s reputation was damaged.
So far, Major League Baseball has indefinitely suspended a promotion offering discounts at the pizza chain after a grand slam. And individual teams, like the Tampa Bay Rays, have ended separate Papa John’s promotions.