Papa John's Terminates Its NFL Sponsorship as Same-Store Sales Decline

New CEO says company will rethink its marketing strategy and unveil new menu items

John Schnatter resigned as CEO of Papa John's last year after blaming lower sales on NFL players' protests of police brutality but remains as the company's chairman.

CEO Steve Ritchie told shareholders that “it’s not business as usual” at Papa John’s these days. Case in point: The pizza chain has dropped its sponsorship of the National Football League.

Ritchie took over after founder and chairman John Schnatter—the original Papa John—stepped down as the company’s CEO. Schnatter has come under fire for wading into politics on several occasions in recent year. In 2017, blamed Papa John’s declining sales on NFL players who knelt during the Pledge of Allegiance to protest police brutality against African-Americans.

As NRN reports, Papa John’s will continue its partnership with 22 NFL teams and with specific athletes. But the company plans to “refocus its marketing to highlight the superior quality of Papa John’s pizza,” NRN states, “re-emphasizing the chain’s tagline of ‘Better Ingredients, Better Pizza.’”

“To be clear, it is not business as usual at Papa John’s,” Ritchie told shareholders in a conference call about fourth-quarter and annual earnings. He said the company plans to “improve our brand proposition, how we connect with customers, and how we operate at the unit level.” He said that would include the largest investment in technology in Papa John’s history, a new marketing strategy and new lines of entrees, desserts and beverages.”

Same-store sales for Papa John’s declined by 3.9 percent in the last quarter, which ended Dec. 31, sending its shares tumbling in extended trading when the news was released on Tuesday.

In a company statement, Ritchie sounded a note of optimism. “We know our potential is so much greater than our results, and we are taking significant steps to reinvigorate our record of profitable growth and value creation,” he said.


Edit Module

Tell us what you think at or email.

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Grinders Pizza Is Where People Go to Get Chili Bombed

Every pie at this Kansas City eatery can be topped with a big pile of tater tots, chili and Cheez Whiz.

Fast-Casual Pizzeria Changes Its Model to Meet Customer Demand

Pie Craft in Long Island has added burgers, pastas and other entrees to its menu while still offering a build-your-own pizza option.

Video: Scott Wiener Explains How the Pizza Box Has Evolved in the Past 60 Years

From basic paperboard material to containers lined with metallic coating and built-in ventilation, the pizza box has come a long way.

In Possible Dream Job, Oven Company Seeks Paid Pizza Taste Testers for $300 a Day

Experienced pizza makers and chefs have an advantage in landing a position with Ooni, a manufacturer of outdoor pizza ovens.

New East Village Pizza Shop Is All About the Dipping Sauce

Adam Elzer offers his grandmother's recipe for tomato gravy as an option at Sauce Pizzeria.

This Company is Pioneering New York-Style Pizza in Pakistan

An elaborate supply chain with links to American pizza makers is making authentic NY-style pizza a possibility in Pakistan.

Pizza Inn Rolls Along with New Meatball Supreme

The new specialty pizza will be added to the buffet line.

Money Magazine, Yelp Name Best Pizza Joints in Each State

Rankings are based on number of online reviews and star ratings.

Pennsylvania Boy Celebrates His Birthday with a Pizza Party for Cops

Jeffrey McCarty got to hobknob with cops and the local bomb squad at his ninth birthday bash.

New Board Members Named for Holding Company of Grain Craft and Southeastern Mills

Rhonda Jordan, Steve Dunphy and Rick Strait join the board of directors for G&L Holdings.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags