This week, Papa John’s Pizza has decided to change their logo and brand by removing the founder’s image from their products, reflecting the fact that he recently admitted to using the n-word in a conference call. The founder, John Schnatter, has also resigned as chair of the company’s board of directors and is stepping back from the company overall.
The conference call during which Schnatter said the n-word happened in May. It was, ironically, intended to be a training exercise for Schnatter, after he said last year that NFL players kneeling during the national anthem was hurting his pizza sales.
According to Forbes, Schnatter was referring to the founder of KFC in saying that “Colonel Sanders called blacks n—–s.” He also — to really show that he was not at all racist — described the violence that black people experienced in his home town, in graphic detail.
Papa John’s has since been under scrutiny, and Schnatter released a statement saying, “Racism has no place in our society.” Papa John’s CEO Steve Ritchie also released a letter in which he said, “Racism and any insensitive language, no matter what the context simply cannot – and will not – be tolerated at any level of our company.”
In spite of this, many professional sports teams, such as the New York Yankees, Miami Marlins and Seattle Mariners, have announced that they will be cutting all ties with the company. The University of Louisville in Kentucky has also announced that they are renaming Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium to just Cardinal Stadium, and Schnatter has resigned from the university board of trustees.
On top of losing many supporters, sponsorships and customers, many people took to Twitter to complain about the situation, after it came to light that Schnatter feels as though he was “pressured” to say the n-word. Jokes were soon made about him being forced to say it against his will, and eventually led to making fun of the pizza itself, with tweets such as, “Why was anybody eating Papa John’s in the first place?”
To the people boycotting Papa John's pizza, I ask you this
why were you eating that trash to begin with??
— Eric Edholm (@Eric_Edholm) July 13, 2018
On a more serious note, despite the discount codes that Papa John’s is attempting to use to salvage their company, many people have expressed that they will be boycotting the company and taking their business elsewhere. It seems as though it will be hard for Papa John’s to rebuild their company after Papa John himself was the real problem.
Especially in the current political climate, comments like these do not go unnoticed. As Papa John said himself, “Racism has no place in our society.” No matter how many excuses or apologies Papa John presents, the bottom line will still be that his comments were racist and offensive, giving Papa John’s no choice but to cut ties with the founder, and attempt to rebuild the company without him.