STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Papa John's new campaign pushes Papa John further away

Papa John's new ad campaign makes a clear statement: The pizza chain is moving on without Papa John.O...

Posted: Sep 18, 2018 8:01 PM
Updated: Sep 18, 2018 8:01 PM

Papa John's new ad campaign makes a clear statement: The pizza chain is moving on without Papa John.

On Tuesday, the embattled pizza company released a new commercial featuring a diverse panel of franchisees and employees.

"You've heard one voice of Papa John's for a long time," one employee says to the camera. "It's time you heard from all of us," said another.

At the commercial's close, a list of names scrolls to replace John's. Papa John's becomes Papa Kiersten's, Papa Brant's and Papa Daniel's.

A 30-second version of the ad will appear during the fall premiers of television shows, sports events and on streaming networks.

The spot is designed to "put the spotlight on the people who truly make up the Papa John's brand," said Melissa A. Richards-Person, Papa John's vice president for global brand strategy and consumer connections.

Papa John's used to feature founder John Schnatter prominently in its ads. His face once adorned the company's pizza boxes.

But the company has been distancing itself from the controversial founder, who resigned his role as chairman in July after news broke that he had used the N-word on a conference call. He had already stepped down as CEO months earlier, after he caused a controversy by blaming the NFL for poor pizza sales.

Over the summer, Papa John's CEO Steve Ritchie noted that "Papa John's is not an individual."

Tuesday's commercial is a continuation of that theme, said Richards-Person.

"This is really turning the next page and moving forward," she said, adding that It's the first step in a broader campaign that will highlight more individual stories.

The commercial was filmed in August.

Addressing the controversy

Recently, Papa John's has taken several steps to signal to employees and customers that it's moving on.

Last month, the company posted an ad to its social media platforms thanking customers for their honest feedback in the wake of the scandals.

"You expected better from Papa John's. So did we," the company said in the ad. "Thank you for your honesty ... It is making us better."

Papa John's is also conducting an internal audit on diversity and inclusion practices, launching a program to support minority-owned franchises and starting a foundation focused on local communities. In August, it promised to help out struggling restaurant owners by cutting some royalties, food prices and online fees for the remainder of the year.

The company also vowed to roll out mandatory bias training for its workers.

While it sends a message of change, the company is also fending off fierce attacks from Schnatter.

Schnatter, who is suing the company, accused the current leadership of allowing his comments to be misrepresented in the media. He has called CEO Steve Ritchie the wrong man for the job, and said that he has helped create a toxic culture rife with harassment and intimidation.

A special committee of the Papa John's board responded to Schnatter's many claims in a scorching letter, accusing him of "promoting his self-interest at the expense of all others in an attempt to regain control." Schnatter has said he regrets resigning as chairman, but that he doesn't want to regain his role as CEO.

Schnatter has set up a website, SavePapaJohns.com, with his own appeal to franchisees. He's using the site to post documents about his lawsuit, statements responding to Papa John's news and media coverage.

On Tuesday, Papa John's set up its own website, Papa John's stories. The site features the new commercial as well as information about the company's recent initiatives, testimonials from employees and messages from Ritchie, a well as links to news articles.

Papa John's sales have plunged over the past few quarters, and shares have fallen by more than 17% this year.

-- Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to a special committee as addressing Ritchie's claims rather than Schnatter's.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 76522

Reported Deaths: 3086
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion16194731
Lake7742281
Elkhart495586
Allen4040163
St. Joseph361083
Hamilton2887104
Vanderburgh205313
Hendricks1943108
Cass18069
Johnson1794119
Porter136239
Clark130750
Tippecanoe124511
Madison103066
LaPorte93530
Howard92065
Kosciusko87212
Floyd82249
Bartholomew82147
Marshall79423
Monroe76732
Delaware76052
Vigo71411
Dubois71312
Boone69746
Noble69029
Hancock68839
Jackson5975
Warrick58830
Shelby56828
LaGrange56610
Grant53130
Dearborn51628
Morgan48934
Clinton4504
Henry41820
Wayne38810
White37711
Montgomery36021
Lawrence35727
Harrison35224
Decatur34232
Putnam3218
Daviess27920
Miami2772
Scott27310
Jasper2572
Greene25434
Franklin24715
DeKalb2384
Gibson2334
Jennings22812
Steuben2153
Ripley2138
Carroll2003
Fayette1957
Perry18713
Posey1800
Starke1807
Orange17824
Wells1782
Fulton1732
Wabash1715
Jefferson1662
Knox1640
Whitley1566
Tipton14912
Washington1441
Sullivan1411
Spencer1393
Clay1315
Huntington1273
Randolph1274
Newton12110
Adams1172
Owen1051
Jay920
Rush894
Pulaski821
Fountain762
Brown752
Blackford662
Ohio656
Benton640
Pike620
Vermillion590
Parke551
Switzerland530
Martin500
Crawford450
Union410
Warren241
Unassigned0208

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 104248

Reported Deaths: 3734
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin18965531
Cuyahoga13869512
Hamilton9844259
Lucas5512326
Montgomery448998
Summit3667224
Butler303364
Marion294245
Mahoning2623256
Pickaway240042
Stark1904142
Warren185039
Lorain183177
Columbiana168360
Trumbull1563110
Fairfield143232
Delaware136519
Licking134551
Clark121315
Lake114642
Wood109058
Clermont96211
Medina95936
Miami86839
Tuscarawas79714
Allen79446
Portage77664
Greene73012
Mercer64113
Belmont62726
Richland61912
Erie61028
Ashtabula57746
Geauga56144
Wayne55459
Ross5094
Madison50310
Darke41429
Huron4115
Ottawa40426
Sandusky39917
Hancock3973
Athens3612
Holmes3316
Lawrence3180
Auglaize2756
Union2731
Scioto2591
Muskingum2481
Jefferson2403
Seneca2344
Shelby2154
Knox2147
Preble2122
Putnam21217
Washington21122
Coshocton1967
Champaign1882
Morrow1792
Crawford1775
Hardin17512
Clinton1716
Highland1692
Logan1672
Ashland1553
Fulton1551
Defiance1544
Wyandot1519
Brown1502
Perry1483
Williams1373
Fayette1240
Henry1222
Hocking1229
Guernsey1197
Carroll1135
Monroe9418
Pike800
Jackson770
Gallia741
Van Wert732
Paulding700
Adams642
Meigs580
Vinton322
Morgan300
Harrison261
Noble170
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 75°
Angola
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 70°
Huntington
Few Clouds
69° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 69°
Decatur
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 73°
Van Wert
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 73°
Storm Chances Friday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events