Two weeks after Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter said, among other things, that NFL player protests “should have been nipped in the bud” and that sales were poor because “The NFL has hurt us by not resolving the current debacle to the players’ and owners’ satisfaction,” the company got around to apologizing. Sort of. In a series of tweets last week, the official Papa John’s Twitter account allowed as how “We believe in the right to protest inequality and support the players’ movement to create a new platform for change. We also believe together, as Americans, we should honor our anthem. There is a way to do both.”
That’s quite the attempt to have things both ways, as Yahoo’s Daniel Roberts points out.
Pizza lovers may find it difficult to take Papa John’s at its word when it now says, “We support the players’ movement,” because it is such a direct contradiction of comments Schnatter himself made on the earnings call.
Schnatter mentioned the NFL 44 times on the call. Among other digs at leadership, he most notably said that the player protests, “should have been nipped in the bud” by the NFL last season, when Colin Kaepernick first started kneeling. That comment matches comments made by President Donald Trump ; Schnatter donated to Trump’s campaign. Schnatter’s comment also matches comments made by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who is currently fighting a “civil war” against his fellow owners and commissioner Roger Goodell. Jones is a Papa John’s franchisee, which has led some to speculate that Jones was behind Schnatter’s comments .
Now Schnatter’s company says it supports the players. But it also says, “We should honor our anthem.” And there is recent history to suggest that brands cannot effectively claim to do both at once.
Yeah, it doesn’t sound like Papa John’s gets that you can honor the anthem by honoring the Constitution, with its promise of the rights to free speech and free expression. In fact, with such a tepid both-ways statement coming two weeks after the fact, it doesn’t sound like the company is doing anything other than ass-covering.
There’s no reason to believe Schnatter didn’t mean what he was saying those 44 times he mentioned the NFL on his company’s earnings call. Trying to have it both ways via Twitter is pathetic, much like Papa John’s pizza.
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