With Schnatter Out Of The Picture, New Papa John's Campaign Arrives

In another move to further distance itself from its disgraced founder and former CEO, Papa John’s pizza unveiled its highly anticipated new ad campaign today from Endeavor Marketing. It’s called “Voices.”

That’s right, voices, plural, a pointed contrast to former CEO John Schnatter who for years was the voice of the chain’s advertising.

As you know Schnatter was relieved of his CEO duties after blaming the NFL last year for not taking a harder line against players who took a knee during the national anthem. Instead of taking responsibility for the firm’s weakening financial performance he blamed the league’s inaction on lower football game ratings and fewer eyeballs to the firm’s ads, yada yada.

Consumers called BS on Schnatter’s outburst and drove sales down further.

Things went from bad to worse this year when Schnatter used racist language during a meeting, which ultimately ended in his ouster as chairman in July.



Ads using him as the face the company were removed shortly thereafter. In August the company released Q2 results that revealed a 6.2% drop in sales.

Now the firm, in its new campaign, wants to show consumers some of the voices and faces that make the company run—hard working folks like you and me busting their butts to earn a living and deliver a good product while they’re at it.

“You’ve heard one voice of Papa John’s for a long time,” a franchisee states in one of the new ads. “It’s time you heard from all of us,” adds a store manager at another location. Other employees and franchisees talk about birthday parties made special and quality ingredients and being known as “the pizza guy” in the community.

It’s quite a contrast to the megalomaniacal Schnatter and the ads he did over the years. Those were all about him and his fabled ability to sell--a talent that seemingly went off the rails if it was ever there to begin with. 

Time will tell whether the new approach helps to repair the damage done to the brand over the past year. My bet is it will take more than one ad campaign to do that. Moving forward, the company promises that we will see and hear “more from the people who make up the Papa John’s family in everything the brand does.” 

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