Papa John’s Punts the NFL Shield

Papa John’s is the official pizza sponsor of the National Football League and the Super Bowl. However, founder and CEO “Papa” John Schnatter is now claiming his company’s association with the NFL has become bad for business due to the continuing national anthem protests.

During an earnings call earlier this week, Schnatter blasted the NFL for its leadership in the controversy that “should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago.”

Schnatter said:

The NFL has hurt us and, more importantly, by not resolving the current debacle to the [players’ and owners’] satisfaction, NFL leadership has hurt Papa John’s.

We are disappointed the NFL and its leadership did not resolve this.

Leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership.

Papa John’s chief operating officer Steve Ritchie echoed those sentiments saying, “The NFL situation has persisted in the pressure that it’s applying to our sales that has bled into the start of the fourth quarter.”

Early reports indicated that Papa John’s would be pulling advertisements from NFL broadcasts. However, ESPN reports a spokesman clarified future spots would be disassociated from the league by removing the NFL Shield and references to the “official sponsor” designation.

Papa John’s is not the first corporate sponsor to express concern with the current negative consequences of brand association. In September, DirecTV began refunding the fees associated with the NFL’s premium out-of-market viewing package to customers who expressed dissatisfaction with the ongoing protests. Anheuser-Busch, the league’s official beer sponsor, added an option to its service hotline allowing customers to express their opinions on the company’s relationship with the NFL. (Anheuser-Busch has still not released any data on the opinions received.)

While it comes as no surprise that companies doing business with the NFL are worried about the financial impact, Schnatter and his company are clearly the first to go on a direct offensive against league’s handling of the anthem protests. Papa John’s is also one of the only NFL sponsors to score a 3 (Neutral) rating or higher according to 2ndVote’s research.

Do the public statements on the NFL anthem protests make you more likely to patronize Papa John’s? Add your opinion to the comments below or reach out to the company directly and let them know:

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