As Papa John’s works to heal its brand following news that its founder, John Schnatter, said the N-word during a conference call, the pizza delivery restaurant chain has called on Bozoma Saint John for help.
A veteran marketing executive who served as Uber’s Chief Brand Officer before becoming Chief Marketing Officer at Endeavor — which includes agency Endeavor Global Marketing — Saint John is focused on making sure Papa John’s rebranding is more than an apology tour.
“I never want to be involved with anything that feels superficial, or feels like, ‘Oh, we’re just trying to get over until this blows over, and then we’ll get back to doing what we’re doing,'” Saint John said. “I think rebranding can mean a lot of different things. It can be superficial, which means just ad and some social posts and things like that. Or it can be what I’d like to call, not rebrand but re-culture. Which is that you’ve taken a crisis and turned it into something that could actually be positive for the company and positive for its people. And the latter is what I wanted.”
Steve Ritchie, Papa John’s CEO, had reached out to Endeavor for assistance before Bozoma joined the agency. Upon learning about the potential partnership, Saint John spoke with Ritchie about his intentions and what he hoped to do in rebranding Papa John’s.
“It’s not just about what hits the cracks or ends up in 30 second TV spots,” Bozoma said. “But, what is the culture of the company? How do we address any of these issues that hit the company in the way that has never hit companies like this before?”
In America’s current political and social climate, it has become more common for corporations to get called out for their wrongdoings. Whether its Pepsi’s tone-deaf, faux-woke commercial with Kendall Jenner or H&M’s racially-insensitive “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” hoodie, corporations are being held accountable for their misconduct.
In the case of Papa John’s, Saint John hopes to use this moment to change the culture and the people of the company for the better.
“There are 120,000 employees at Papa John’s who didn’t say the word, and who weren’t part of that action,” she said. “I wanna figure out a way to make sure that all the points in which they are acting from this point forward are in the best interests of the communities in which one, that they have offended; and two, that they serve and continue to serve.”