Everyone is likely to be familiar with the pizza brand Papa John’s. And, many people likely also recognize the image of the head of the company, founder John Schnatter. After all, it’s his face and name on the company and the product. Schnatter’s entrepreneurial story has been a big part of the company’s brand image and his visage has prominently been featured in its marketing and promotion activities.
However, Schnatter’s name and face have been in hot water after he recently made a racial slur on a conference call with its ad agency. (Note: The agency dropped Papa John’s as a client after the call.) This comes on top of Schnatter’s controversial NFL statements a year ago, criticizing football players who knelt (instead of standing) for the national anthem, and blaming them for lower pizza sales.
Eventually, the NFL ended the Papa John’s relationship and signed with Pizza Hut as the official pizza partner of the NFL. Also breaking ties with Papa John’s is Major League Baseball, eliminating its co-branded marketing efforts.
The big question: Should Papa John’s rebrand?
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- Poll students: When should a company rebrand? What is the impact of a visible company leader who crosses a line in society?
- Divide students into teams. Have each team research and discuss what happened with Papa John’s in regards to negative press.
- Poll teams: Should the company rebrand?
- Have teams list what would be involved in order to rebrand. What should the new brand look like?
- View the response from Papa John’s to its customers: https://www.papajohns.com/open-letter/
- Debrief the exercise.
Source: CNN Money, USA Today, Brandchannel.com, and other news sources