Papa John's Founder Files Lawsuit Against Ad Firm "Laundry Service"

Daniel Fowler
December 9, 2019

He's also suing the creative advertising firm, Laundry Service, and its parent company because he claims it leaked the audio that led to him losing his PJ's gig.

Schnatter lays out his timeline of a series of events in the document.

Laundry Service had just been hired as Papa John's ad agency and, according to the complaint, the agency advocated for the company to use Kanye West in its new campaign.

"Awesome idea!" said a user.

Then, Schnatter says, he expected to discuss marketing initiatives on the May 22 call.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from Laundry Service over the result of that leak, which led to the end of Schnatter's role with the Louisville, Ky. -based pizza chain.

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Schnatter argues that Laundry Service leaked the details to "bury" Schnatter amid the payment dispute.

The next year he stepped down as chairman for using racial slurs during a conference call. Schnatter argues that he used the epithet while criticizing KFC founder Colonel Sanders for his use of the N-word to describe African Americans.

Jo Hardy, a Wasserman spokeswoman, didn't immediately return a call or email for comment Thursday on Schnatter's suit.

Last week, he gave a awkward interview in which he claimed that Papa John's quality has gone down without him at the helm, claiming he had eaten "over 40 pizzas in the last 30 days". Casey Wasserman, an entertainment and sports executive who serves as the chairman of the Los Angeles Organizing Committee for the 2028 Olympic Games, declined to comment on the suit.

In the suit, Schnatter also lays out his take on the comments he made on Papa John's November 1, 2017, conference call, when he said the NFL leadership was doing a poor job of handling the players' national anthem protests that were started by Colin Kaepernick, as well as the subsequent decline in ratings, which he says had an effect on Papa John's sales. As fewer viewers saw the ads amid declining viewership, Papa John's sales declined. "In his comments, Mr. Schnatter did not take a side in the anthem protests and, in fact, twice stated the league should find a resolution that was to the players' satisfaction", the complaint says. Schnatter asserts in the lawsuit that he did not take a side in the protests. Mr. Schnatter has pledged to contribute all net proceeds from this lawsuit to charity.

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