‘I Am Papa John,’ Desperate Pizza Chain Founder Creates Website

'I Am Papa John,' Pizza Chain Founder Creates Desperate Website

During a media training call in May, John Schnatter, founder of popular pizza chain Papa John’s, reportedly uttered a racial slur that cost him his job. And now he wants it back, with an ad in his hometown paper, Louisville’s Courier-Journal.

Schnatter, who founded the chain in 1984, was forced out of his role as chairman after Forbes reported on his comments during the call with the chain’s current ad agency, Laundry Service.

He had moved into the chairman role after inappropriate comments on another call last year about declining sales due to NFL players’ national anthem protests forced him out of his CEO role. Schnatter, who has also long been the face of the brand in its print and television ads, was pulled from promotions following the comments.

Schnatter, who appears to plead with his former company in the post, says he was pressured to make the racial slur by the ad agency who then attempted to extort $6 million from Papa John’s over the comments. The agency denies the claims.

The post in the Courier-Journal, which website Mashable describes as Schnatter “going rogue,” says that he misses his team, stating that they will “all get through this together somehow, some way.” Links from the ad go to a website called SavePapaJohns.com.

Schnatter calls Papa John’s “our life’s work” saying he placed the ad in order to “get the truth out there.”

A banner on the new site with a familiar image of Schnatter harkening to his ads for the chain, reads “I am Papa John.”

In a statement to the website Adweek, a representative for Papa John’s said the company’s customers, franchisees, employees, and investors, “have expressed strong support for the actions we have taken to separate our brand from Mr. Schnatter.”

The company said that “no matter what John [Schnatter] does, he will not be able to distract from the inappropriate comments he made.”

Despite cutting ties with Schnatter, Papa John’s says its franchisees are still struggling to recover from the comments he made.

Image by Sheri Giblin.

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