February 28, 2018
When it comes to sending the NFL a message, Papa John's delivers. After six months of back and forth with the League over its pathetic handling of the anthem crisis, the pizza chain is finally cutting ties with Commissioner Bob Goodell. Papa John's, new CEO Steve Ritchie announced, will no longer be the official pizza of the National Football League.
With football ratings in the basement and fan disgust at an all-time high, the chain thinks it's time to move its advertisement to players, preferably patriotic ones. This all comes, of course, after the very public spat between former CEO John Schnatter and the League's management, who he blamed for the decline in sales. "We are totally disappointed that he NFL and its leadership did not resolve the ongoing situation to the satisfaction of all parties long ago," Schnatter said. "This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago... NFL leadership has hurt Papa John's shareholders."
Now, with the season in the rearview mirror, Ritchie said he'd had some time to think and talk with investors. There's an overwhelmingly "negative consumer sentiment" about the NFL, he said in a call. And while pizza has historically been a big business for football, fewer people are sitting down to watch players insult their national anthem. Fewer viewers means fewer slices. As of Tuesday, Papa John's said that its sales had dropped 3.9 percent in its final quarter. It's time, everyone agreed, to "redirect investments."
"Great American brands distinguish themselves by creating exceptional products and putting customers first. Everything else is a distraction," expert Adam Johnson points out. Like us, he's watched the fall of household names like Kellogg's, Target, GrubHub, Penzey's Spices, Starbucks, and others because they decided to focus on politics, not products. It's a sad commentary on our times that CEOs seem more preoccupied with pushing their brand of morals than merchandise.
In this case, Papa John's seems to be doing its part to hold a politically correct League accountable. Unfortunately, out of desperation or pressure -- or both -- some businesses are still trying to woo customers with political correctness. Most CEOs find out the hard way that it doesn't work. (Look at the mess Delta Airlines is in this week for its attack on NRA members!) At the end of the day, Americans respect -- and reward -- companies that stay neutral in the culture war. And thanks to organizations like 2nd Vote, it's a lot easier to know which companies those are. With apps like theirs, you can make sure your dollars aren't lining the pockets of businesses that will only use the money to mock your morals. Anymore, you aren't just buying pizza or lattes -- you're buying into a company's beliefs. So make sure you know where your favorite brands stand. And don't just voice your values -- shop them!
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.