The Papa purge is now commencing
Better ingredients, better pizza, less Papa. It’s not actually the Papa John’s tagline (and the first two parts of that clause are dubious claims at best), but it sounds like it will be the company’s mantra moving forward.
According to a company memo obtained by the New York Post, a publication that knows a thing or two about what actually constitutes decent pizza, the Papa purge is underway. Franchisees have received detailed instructions on how to remove every last trace of John Schnatter’s signature and likeness from all 5,212 Papa John’s locations across the globe. The process will involve everything from removing a poster of Papa with (overrated) NFL quarterback Peyton Manning all the way down to stripping his signature from the paddles used to extract cardboard pizza from the ovens.
In case you remain blissfully unaware of the ongoing drama between Schnatter and the company he founded, here’s a quick rundown: back in May, he dropped an n-bomb on a conference call with Papa John’s (now-former) marketing agency Laundry Service. The call was meant to coach Schnatter on how to step back into the spotlight without causing PR blunders after he blamed sliding sales on the NFL anthem protests. The fact that he created a racist PR crisis on a conference call expressly designed to teach him how to not do that very thing rendered the whole exercise only slightly more useless than the average conference call.
So what’s a wayward pizza company to do after removing all traces of Schnatter from its history like Josef Stalin did with his deposed rivals for power? Turn to the real life version of an Entourage character, of course. CNN Money reports that Papa John’s has hired Endeavor Global Marketing, a media conglomerate owned by Ari Emmanuel, the inspiration for Jeremy Piven’s sleazy and obnoxious portrayal of Ari Gold. Does that mean Johnny Drama will step in and become the new Papa John? Will there be some sort of tie-in with the upcoming Aquaman film? Who knows or cares!
Much like other racists with an irrational fear of being “replaced”, the original Papa John man doesn’t seem to have the firmest grasp on reality. After hiring a high-profile lawyer to try and claw his way back into the company he founded, Schnatter told the Associated Press the mediocre pizza brand he founded back in 1984 would be nothing—nothing!— without him around to shill for it.
“My persona resonates with the consumer because it’s authentic, it’s genuine and it’s the truth,” he said in a phone interview. Given that a Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism report indicates that the incidence of hate crimes in America’s ten largest cities rose 12.5% in 2017, he may have a point!
Though Papa John the man (a great name for a pizza-themed Portugal the Man cover band) intends to drag out the fight for as long as he can, Papa John’s the company is more than ready to move on. And if you’re seriously the kind of consumer who only purchased their pizza because you thought Schnatter looked like a chill guy, you probably should move on too.