Papa John’s founder resigns as chairman

Tanya Simon
July 13, 2018

Papa John's Pizza's Chairman John Schnatter resigned as chairman of the board, the company said Wednesday.

According to an article in Forbes, the incident happened, ironically, during a call with a marketing agency about how to avoid future public relations crises. According to an unidentified source, Schnatter was asked how he planned to "distance himself from racist groups" on the internet. Schnatter was eventually forced to step down as CEO, but he remained chairman of the board and the face of the brand. He was reportedly complaining because Colonel Sanders used the word and never faced public backlash. Later in the call, he brought up his childhood in IN, where, he said, "people used to drag African-Americans from trucks until they died".

Although Mr Schnatter's comments were apparently meant to illustrate his opposition to racism, several people on the call said they found his remarks offensive.

He added: 'Regardless of the context, I apologise'.

Schnatter founded Papa John's in 1984.

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Each one allowed baseball fans to get 40 percent off their order at Papa John's the next day by using a Papa Slam online coupon code. It has stores in dozens of countries around the world, spanning Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

The issue started when founder John Schnatter suddenly and inexplicably blamed the NFL and kneeling football players for his company's decline in pizza sales.

Also in May, although the timing is unclear, Papa John's then-CMO Brandon Rhoten, who picked Laundry Service as the chain's creative agency of record (replacing Grey) and had been with the company roughly a year, was pushed out.

Schnatter described his comments during the conference call as "inappropriate and hurtful" in a statement provided by the company. Papa John's later apologized for Schnatter's comments.

J. David Grissom, the chairman of the university board, said he had spoken to Schnatter on Wednesday. "The board appreciates his 2 years of service and thanks him for his generous support for so many years".

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