Papa John’s may finish NFL sponsorship after anthem protests


Papa John's 4Hollis Johnson
  • Papa John’s executives say the chain is evaluating its NFL sponsorship deal. 
  • Earlier this week, Papa John’s CEO blamed the league’s “poor leadership” and declining rankings following gamers’ protests on the chain’s subpar gross sales. 


Papa John’s is reevaluating its NFL sponsorship after controversy involving gamers’ protests throughout the nationwide anthem engulfed the chain. 

“If the viewership decline continues, we will need to shift into things that work more effectively for us,” Papa John’s President and Chief Operating Officer Steve Ritchie advised the Wall Street Journal on Friday. 

On Wednesday, Papa John’s CEO and founder John Schnatter slammed the NFL, blaming the league’s “poor leadership” and declining rankings on the pizza chain’s gross sales stoop. According to Schnatter, controversy surrounding gamers’ protests had performed a job in rankings decline. 

john schnatterPapa John’s founder and CEO John SchnatterMichael Hickey/Getty Images

The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling throughout the anthem final yr to protest racial injustice and police brutality. The controversy over the protests was renewed in September after President Donald Trump mentioned gamers who did so needs to be fired.

“We are totally disappointed that the NFL and its leadership did not resolve the ongoing situation to the satisfaction of all parties long ago,” Schnatter mentioned in a name with traders on Wednesday. “This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago.” 

Currently, the NFL is essential to Papa John’s enterprise. The firm started its partnership with the NFL in 2010 and has “Preferred Pizza” partnerships with 23 NFL groups. Last yr, the corporate signed a multi-year partnership with the NFL and the Super Bowl.

Ritchie “emphatically denied” to the Wall Street Journal that Papa John’s had pressured the league to ban protests. Instead, he mentioned the scenario had revealed points with the chain’s choice to aggressively put money into tv promoting, allocating a “huge percentage” of its fall and winter advertising and marketing funds to the NFL. 

After President Trump tweeted in late September that gamers kneeling are “disrespecting our Flag & Country,” a lot of his supporters began canceling NFL TV bundles and burning merchandise. This week, many on the fitting rallied round Papa John’s after Schnatter’s feedback. 

However, the chain additionally confronted backlash from progressives for seeming responsible gamers’ protest for subpar gross sales. Other pizza manufacturers additionally piled onto Papa John’s, implying that the standard of the chain’s pizza — not NFL gamers — had been responsible for the gross sales stoop. 

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