Published: Fri, July 13, 2018
Sport | By Cameron Gross

Papa John's to pull founder from marketing

Papa John's to pull founder from marketing

The founder of Papa John's resigned from his position as chairman of the pizza chain's board of directors, just hours after he apologized for using a racial slur during a company conference call earlier this year.

The company told the publication it is still working out the exact timing and details as to how it plans to remove Schnatter, who has always been the face of the chain, from advertisements. Schnatter had stepped down as CEO previous year after criticizing National Football League protests.

Schnatter has always been the face of the brand, and Papa John's has acknowledged in regulatory filings that its business could be hurt if Schnatter's reputation was damaged.

The pizza chain later said it had accepted Mr Schnatter's resignation and that a new chairman would be appointed in the coming weeks.

Shares of Papa John's, one of the country's largest pizza delivery chains, fell about 5 percent in premarket trading Thursday in the wake of Schnatter's resignation from the board.

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In addition to appearing in TV ads, Schnatter's image has been on packaging and at the center of a logo that usually was all over the company's website.

Keith Hollingsworth, a professor at Morehouse College's business department, said keeping Schnatter on marketing would be a signal to people that the company does not have a problem with his comments, or that it didn't think they were a big deal.

"Colonel Sanders called blacks n--s", Schnatter reportedly said on the call.

In a statement on Wednesday, the company said it condemned "racism and any insensitive language". The promotion allowed baseball fans to get 40 percent off their order at Papa John's the day after any player hit a grand slam by using an online coupon code. The company can not afford to alienate customers, with sales already under pressure from rivals such as Domino's.

A Papa John's spokesperson confirmed to the BBC that it will erase its founder's image from all advertising.

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