Wow, for a while there, it was like we were getting Papa John’s updates just about every day. Now we’re looking at several days without any breaking Papa John’s news stories. So what’s going on with Louisville, Kentucky’s beleaguered pizza franchise? Nothing good, apparently.
CNN Money—in a story titled “Papa John’s blames Papa John for big sales decline”—reports that yesterday, “the company said its same-store sales in North America fell 10.5 percent in July and 6.1 percent in the most recent quarter.” Perhaps you can draw the timing of this drop to the time chain founder John Schnatter began inserting himself in the cultural wars, claiming that the national anthem protests by NFL players were contributing to slumping sales. From there it was a series of bad P.R., bookmarked with the NFL ending its sponsorship with Papa John’s and most recently, the revelation that Schnatter used a racial slur during a marketing conference call. Schnatter subsequently apologized, resigned as chair of the company board, then said he regretted resigning and accused the board of forcing him out. What a mess.
The New York Post reported today that Papa John’s announced that it will spend $50 million on a rebranding campaign in an attempt to scrub Papa John the spokesperson from Papa John’s the company, which seems like a tall order. Still, current company president and CEO Steve Ritchie stated on a call with analysts, “Franchisees and partners have expressed overwhelming support for... our decision to remove John as brand spokesperson.”
On an earnings call, says the Post, it was revealed that “The embattled pizza chain expects to shell out up to $50 million this year to pay an army of advisers and consultants.”
Ad Age has a thorough recap of what it called an “awwwwkward earnings report.” One of the key takeaways is how Ritchie pushed for bringing back “millennial and Gen Z” customers that opted for some place, well, cooler, and how Papa John’s hoped to emulate a company like Chipotle and be a “purpose-driven company.”
Will that purpose be driven by wiping Schnatter’s likeness from all of Papa John’s pizza boxes? This Papa John’s shit show continues.