Louisville takes Papa John's off name of Cardinal Stadium

PZZA data by YCharts

PZZA data by YCharts

Papa John's is the world's third-largest pizza chain, with more than 350 outlets in the United Kingdom and 4,900 restaurants worldwide.

Schnatter is Papa John's brand.

The company told the publication it is still working out the exact timing and details as to how it plans to remove Schnatter, who has always been the face of the chain, from advertisements.

"The difficultly Papa John's faces in pivoting the brand away from Schnatter is that they first need to treat this as a crisis and then redefine what their brand is and what it stands for", said Deb Gabor, CEO of Sol Marketing.

McConnell says he isn't aware of the contractual agreements on the stadium naming but expressed confidence that new university president Neeli Bendapudi would handle it "very well". A full rebranding would be even more expensive than shooting new commercials and changing pizza boxes and signage.

While Papa John's was once ubiquitous with the sports world, it's partnerships have fallen off over the past few months due to Schnatter's actions. The University of Louisville said it will remove the Papa John's name from its football stadium, and that it will rename the John H. Schnatter Center for Free Enterprise at its business college. "They might be able to show that new people, new thinking and new practices are in charge".

Hollingsworth pointed to Subway's Jared Fogle as another example of a spokesman becoming a liability.

Asked whether she was daring the company to sue over the name change, Bendapudi said, "It's not that type of situation at all". The conference call with the marketing company was meant to help him return to the public eye. "Clearly, he made a mistake and he should be held accountable, but in the long term, this will not be remembered".

The University of Louisville has renamed Papa John's Cardinal Stadium "Cardinal Stadium", the latest in the fallout since Papa John's International Founder John Schnatter admitted on Wednesday that he used a racial slur in a business conference call in May.

Schnatter subsequently issued a statement acknowledging the use of "inappropriate and hurtful" language.

Schnatter's controversial comment came during a role-playing exercise during a May conference call, which itself was organized in the wake of his comments concerning the NFL, and placing blame on the league's national anthem protests for the company's sales, Forbes reported.

The incident prompted Papa John's marketing firm to break ties with the company, Forbes said. The former declined to comment.

Schnatter donated $14 million personally to help fund the 20-year-old stadium's construction and subsequent expansion, and the Papa John's company added another $6 million, according to the Courier-Journal.

Schnatter is still on the board and is the company's largest shareholder - meaning he remains a key presence.

Papa John's International Inc. began operations in 1984 and had more than 5,200 locations globally.

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