Papa John’s Scraps Founder John Schnatter From Branding


Papa John’s will stop using

John Schnatter’s

image in its marketing and branding efforts, a move meant to distance the pizza chain from its founder after it was reported that he used inappropriate language.

For years, the company has used Mr. Schnatter in television commercials and featured him in some of its logos. That strategy was upended this week, after Forbes reported Mr. Schnatter used a racial slur and other inflammatory language during a May conference call.

Mr. Schnatter stepped down as chairman of the board of Papa John’s International Inc. on Wednesday. The company’s Chief Executive

Steve Ritchie

said Friday Mr. Schnatter “will no longer be in any of the advertising or marketing materials associated with the brand.”

“This decision is the first of several key steps to rebuild trust from the inside-out,” Mr. Ritchie said in a statement. The company will hire an outside expert to audit its practices related to diversity and inclusion, and senior managers will visit locations across the U.S. to speak with employees, he added.

Efforts to reach Mr. Schnatter, who confirmed to Forbes earlier this week he made the remarks, were unsuccessful. The Associated Press reported that he told a Louisville radio station on Friday he was “sick” about the situation.

Separately on Friday, the University of Louisville renamed its football field Cardinal Stadium, stripping out a reference to Papa John’s.

The change was effective immediately, Neeli Bendapudi, the school’s president, said in statements on Friday.

“Over the last 24 hours our community has been fractured by the comments made by former U of L trustee John Schnatter,”

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Ms. Bendapudi

said. “These comments were hurtful and unacceptable and they do not reflect the values of our university.”

Mr. Schnatter, who on Wednesday resigned from the university’s board, donated money to help build the stadium, which opened in 1998. Ms. Bendapudi also said Mr. Schnatter’s name has been removed from an institute based at the university’s College of Business.

Shares in Papa John’s fell 0.2% on Friday to close at $53.55 a share and were unchanged in after-hours trading. For the year, the stock has declined 4.6%.

Write to Micah Maidenberg at micah.maidenberg@wsj.com



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