Advertisers are at their wits end with the NFL.
The league’s lack of leadership has profoundly affected their advertisers’ bottom line.
And that has culminated to a point where now one enormous NFL advertiser is making a huge change because of the anthem protests.
Ratings and stadium attendance across the NFL is down big-time.
Each week there is an embarrassing amount of people attending the games.
And the networks that broadcast for the NFL are subsequently suffering massive advertising losses.
In particular, John Schnatter of Papa John’s was previously very critical of the league over the protests. Some say the pizza giant lost upwards of $100 million—because why buy game day pizza if you aren’t even watching the game?
And now, CEO John Schnatter will be officially stepping down from Papa John’s come January 1st.
USA Today reports:
“Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter, who overcame the odds to build his home-delivery pizza chain into a national powerhouse against entrenched rivals, is stepping down.
Schnatter, who founded the pizza chain in 1984, will remain as chairman of the board. No immediate reason was given for his decision, which takes effect Jan. 1. He is being replaced CEO is company President Steve Ritchie.
As the founder, Schnatter has been one of the biggest names in fast food. But he recently ran into controversy when he blamed NFL players’ mass move to drop to one knee during the playing of the national anthem as affecting his company’s sales.
Schnatter has been one of the last CEOs who also act as their brand’s advertising pitchman, a list that once included Col. Harland Sanders for Kentucky Fried Chicken and Dave Thomas of Wendy’s.
By stressing that Papa John’s had better ingredients and a better tasting product, he was able to turn the burgeoning chain into a national force against giants like Domino’s Pizza and Pizza Hut.
Papa John’s, which lays claim to being the nation’s third-largest pizza chain, could not be reached immediately for comment.
The company, which has more than 5,000 locations worldwide, said in a statement that Schnatter will continue to “pursue his personal passion for entrepreneurship, leadership development and education.”
But his impending title change caught restaurant industry watchers by surprise.
“At the very least, it was distracting and I’m wondering whether this was board-driven or if it was John’s choice,” said restaurant consultant John Gordon of the Pacific Management Consulting Group.
CFRA equity analyst Efraim Levy said he had anticipated a shift was coming soon in the company.
“I see mostly strategic continuity, but I expect Steve Ritchie to also put his own imprint” on Papa John’s,” he said.
Louisville-based Papa John’s is the official pizza sponsor of the National Football League, which Schnatter slammed in November for not dealing with players who’ve been kneeling during the Star Spangled Banner to protest racial injustice. The movement began with then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016.
“The NFL has been a long and valued partner over the years. But we’re certainly disappointed that the NFL and its leadership did not resolve the ongoing situation to the satisfaction of all parties long ago,” Schnatter said during a Nov. 1 analyst call. “This should’ve been nipped in the bud a year-and-a-half ago.”
On Nov. 14, the company sent out an I’m-sorry tweet: “The statements made on our earnings call were describing the factors that impact our business and we sincerely apologize to anyone that thought they were divisive.”
It’s a sad day when a businessman has to apologize for worrying about the financial future of his own business.
It’s the players who should be apologizing, but why would they? They aren’t losing any money. Yet.