It is no secret that Papa Johns has been struggling through 2018. The pizza giant experienced plenty of negative publicity thanks to founder and previous CEO John Schnatter. The company’s namesake publicly proclaimed that the NFL was to blame for a dip in sales. Schnatter blamed the NFL’s ongoing dispute over players kneeling during the national anthem. Consumers reacted negatively to this childish finger pointing.
At this critical juncture, the public began to see cracks in the carefully crafted image Papa Johns had worked hard to create. The situation worsened when Schnatter used a derogatory racial slur during a conference call. A major change within the Papa Johns leadership came quickly after that event. Papa John was officially ousted from his company, removed from commercials, marketing materials, and the company’s public image. Schnatter hasn’t gone quietly, he still has fought for inclusion in the company he founded by himself but is no longer a part of Papa Johns.
Steve Ritchie, the current Papa Johns CEO and employee of 22 years, evaluated the situation and worked quickly to act. Ritchie posted a hasty apology on the company’s website. He later issued a more thoughtful, heartfelt apology to the public for what his predecessor had said and done.
The letter to consumers was empathetic, apologetic, and denounced racism as no part of their company. He then went on to explain how the company was actively working to repair the damage done and prepare to be a better company. Steve Ritchie also pointed out that Papa John’s employs 120,000 people nationwide. He said that they positively contribute to their local communities, work hard, and shouldn’t be punished for the views of only one person. Finally, Steve Ritchie Papa John’s declared their company’s accountability in the scandal and accepted future accountability for Papa John’s company culture.