- REUTERS/Danny Moloshok
- Papa John’s is pulling its founder, John Schnatter, from its marketing, the company confirmed to Business Insider.
- Schnatter is no longer pictured in the chain’s logo on social media or Papa John’s website.
- The company’s founder and former CEO has been a major part of its promotions, with “Papa John” featured in commercials and on pizza boxes.
- Earlier this week, Schnatter was ousted as the company’s chairman after admitting to using the N-word on a company conference call in May.
The pizza chain Papa John’s has started to pull its founder, John Schnatter, from the company’s marketing after he admitted earlier this week to using the N-word during a company conference call in May.
“A person inside the company with knowledge of the decision said the decision to remove Schnatter as the marketing face of Papa John’s was made by top executives and the details and exact timing are still being worked out,” the Associated Press reported on Friday.
A Papa John’s representative confirmed the report to Business Insider but said the company did not have an official statement on the matter.
By 11 a.m. ET on Friday, Schnatter’s image was no longer included in the company logo on its website, a change first spotted by the AP reporter Candice Choi. The company’s social-media accounts also feature a version of the logo that does not feature Schnatter. For now at least, there are no plans to change the pizza chain’s name, the AP cited a source as saying.
- Papa John’s website
Whether in television ads or on pizza boxes, Schnatter, who founded the company, has been the eponymous “Papa John” whose image has appeared in the company’s marketing.
On Wednesday, Forbes reported that Papa John’s executives held a conference call with the marketing agency Laundry Service in May in an attempt to prevent controversies for the brand. Papa John’s met backlash last year when Schnatter blamed the NFL and player police protests for disappointing sales. Papa John’s ended its NFL sponsorship over the issue.
“On the May call, Schnatter was asked how he would distance himself from racist groups online,” a source told Forbes. “He responded by downplaying the significance of his NFL statement. ‘Colonel Sanders called blacks n——,’ Schnatter said, before complaining that Sanders never faced public backlash.”
The source added that Schnatter seemed to intend for his remarks to show his stance against racism but that multiple people on the call found them objectionable.
Schnatter admitted to making the remarks and apologized, stepping down as chairman of the company’s board later Wednesday. He remains on Papa John’s board and is the company’s largest shareholder.
“Papa John’s condemns racism and any insensitive language, no matter the situation or setting,” Papa John’s said in a statement on Wednesday. “Our company was built on a foundation of mutual respect and acceptance.”
The company did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment on the chain’s future marketing plans.
Schnatter has long attracted controversy, in large part because of his political viewpoints.
While he was the company’s CEO, his statements about the NFL dragged Papa John’s into the middle of a polarizing debate, garnering backlash on the left and support on the right. Papa John’s announced in late December that Schnatter was stepping down as CEO and would be replaced by Steve Ritchie.
Schnatter also came under fire in 2012 for saying the Affordable Care Act could be “lose-lose” for Papa John’s franchisees and employees. The backlash was swift, with many promising to boycott Papa John’s in response to Schnatter’s comments.
Schnatter also donated $1,000 to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, though he did not publicly express support for him.