Papa John's to pull founder from marketing

Ross Houston
July 13, 2018

Papa John's is the world's third-largest pizza chain, with more than 350 outlets in the United Kingdom and 4,900 restaurants worldwide.

But similar to how Subway bounced back, 5W Public Relations CEO Ronn Torossian said he says the controversy won't have a lasting impact on the brand's image.

Mr Schnatter quit as chief executive a year ago after criticising the NFL over players' national anthem protests.

Louisville president Neeli Bendapudi announced Friday the school will strip the Papa John's name from its football stadium, renaming it Cardinal Stadium. "As a result, we have indefinitely suspended our relationship with Papa John's".


Now that he's not the chairman of the board of the company he founded, Schnatter's face is disappearing from all of Papa John's marketing materials.

The school has a deal that runs through 2040 with Schnatter himself and not the Papa John's brand, but if Schnatter leaves the company he can rename the building, according to ESPN.

In a statement released by Papa John's, Schnatter said reports attributing use of "inappropriate and hurtful" language to him were true.

The University of Louisville has renamed Papa John's Cardinal Stadium "Cardinal Stadium", the latest in the fallout since Papa John's International Founder John Schnatter admitted on Wednesday that he used a racial slur in a business conference call in May.


Schnatter had pledged $800,000 to renovate the building, which also carried his name until earlier this week.

Some in the UofL community, including current football players, called on Bendapudi to change the stadium's name after Schnatter's comment. Forbes reported that Schnatter used the N-word during a media training exercise. 'Regardless of the context, I apologize, ' the statement said. The person was not aware of any plans to change the pizza chain's name.

Built in the late 1990s, the football stadium was financed with $20 million in donations from Schnatter and his company - $14 million in personal gifts and $6 million from Papa John's worldwide, according to a pair of naming rights agreements and extensions obtained by WDRB. "From our team standpoint, our partnership is with local owner/operators in Phoenix and completely separate from the national company". For the first three months of this year, Papa John's said a key sales figure fell 5.3 percent in North America. In addition, Schnatter will keep his shares in the company and remain the largest shareholder with 30 percent of the pizza chain's stock.


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