University of Louisville removes Papa John's name from Cardinal Stadium

Papa John Schnatter- The Founder CEO & President of Papa John's Pizza

Papa John Schnatter- The Founder CEO & President of Papa John's Pizza

Papa John's founder and former CEO John Schnatter resigned as chairman of the pizza chain's board last night following reports he used the N-word in a conference call this May.

Papa John's, based in Louisville, Kentucky, began operations in 1984 and had more than 5,200 locations globally.

But similar to how Subway bounced back, 5W Public Relations CEO Ronn Torossian said he says the controversy won't have a lasting impact on the brand's image. He owns almost 30 percent of the shares, and remains on the board even after ceding his role as chairman.

Papa John's Cardinal Stadium will now be called simply Cardinal Stadium in the wake of a scandal involving the founder of the pizza chain whose company name has been attached to the stadium for years. Not only is he featured in many TV commercials, but his face is emblazoned on pizza boxes and at the center of the logo. In exchange, the company had a naming-rights agreement with the school that extended through December 31, 2040. But he echoed the risks that come with marketing strategies that are overly dependent on a single individual.

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In its 2017 annual filing, Papa John's said, "We depend on the continued availability of his image and his services as spokesman in our advertising and promotion materials". Papa John's did not immediately respond to whether the company would keep using it.

While on a call with a marketing agency, John defended his comments about the National Football League, saying KFC didn't face backlash when "Colonel Sanders called blacks n--s", Forbes reported. He issued an apology for using the "inappropriate and hurtful language". Schnatter released a statement Wednesday apologizing, which said in part, "Regardless of the context, I apologize".

"The name may be salvageable with some sort of "new generation taking over" messages, but we don't really know", said Cathy Dunkin, a lecturer in management at Washington University in St. Louis' Olin Business School. The company also confirmed that it has no plans to rename the brand.

Earlier in the week two Louisville football players said on Twitter that they want the stadium renamed. Schnatter apologized and said he would resign as chairman. "From our team standpoint, our partnership is with local owner/operators in Phoenix and completely separate from the national company". For the first three months of this year, the chain said a key sales figure fell 5.3 percent in North America.

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