Sales have gone down considerably at Papa John’s. The international Pizza delivery chain is placing blame on the controversy surrounding the NFL, where the players are kneeling in protest during the national anthem. Since Papa John’s is an NFL sponsor and advertiser, the controversy hurt their sales numbers. The company said that their customers have a negative view of the chain due to its association with the NFL.
“We have to evaluate our reliance on partnerships that are TV-focused, like the NFL,” Papa John’s Chief Marketing Officer Brandon Rhoten told the Wall Street Journal. Papa John’s believes the league’s drop in ratings relates to the lingering anthem controversy.
“If the viewership decline continues, we will need to shift into things that work more effectively for us,” Papa John’s President and Chief Operating Officer Steve Ritchie said. “We are anxiously awaiting a solution to be created. That’s what will put the league in a positive place for the players, the fan base, and the partners associated with them.”
The company missed its earnings growth expectations for the year, and Papa John’s stock fell about 10 percent on Wednesday.
This kneeling movement was started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick last year, when he knelt during the National Anthem in protest to the mistreatment by police toward black males. More players joined in after President Donald Trump said at an Alabama rally last month that team owners should get rid of players who protest during the National Anthem.
According to experts, one of the main reasons for a drop in the game’s rating this year is due to the national anthem controversy.
Now with the fall in NFL ratings and the considerable drop in Papa John’s sales, the Pizza Delivery chain is assessing its relationship with the NFL, Spokesman Peter Collins said in an email.
“The NFL was eighth of the top 10 prime time shows. So it’s experiencing a significant decline, which is leading us to have to look at other investment to create that consumer preference of our brand,” Brandon Rhoten, Chief Marketing Officer at Papa John’s, said in the earnings call.
Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter criticized the way the controversy was handled by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
“We’re certainly disappointed that NFL and its leadership did not resolve the ongoing situation to the satisfaction of all parties this year, year-and-a-half ago,” he said. “Good or bad, leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership.”