Following the public downfall of Papa John himself, the pizza chain has spent the past year regaining its lost position, amid stern competition from Domino’s and Pizza Hut. As it announces tangible gains in restaurant openings and quarterly profit, Papa John’s is about to embark on a $40m marketing push, with NBA star Shaquille O’Neal as its new brand ambassador, according to reports from QSR magazine.
The pizza chain’s major problems began last year when it’s founder, mascot, chief exec and chairman, John Schnatter, delivered a sustained series of PR misfires that placed his company in a difficult position.
After he hit headlines for publicly condemning NFL black athletes for ‘taking a knee,’ the company endured a public backlash that saw Schnatter step down as chief exec soon after. Following that, Papa John’s lost its lucrative deal with NFL as official sponsor – an account that was picked up by its main competitor Pizza Hut. Schnatter eventually stepped down all together as chairman after he had to publicly apologise for using a racial slur during a call with his agency of record.