Thursday, December 6, 2012

Humble Pie

Elections have consequences.

It turns out that being a good corporate citizen is as important to selling pizzas as the thinness of the crust or the quality of the cheese.

If you don’t believe it, just ask Papa John CEO, John Schnatter.

As covered—and criticized—in this column in great detail, Mr. Schnatter decided to mix his politics with his pepperoni when suggesting that he would be cutting the work hours for Papa John employees in order to bring them below the 30 hour per week threshold that would require Schnatter to provide his employees with healthcare benefits.

It turns out, the pizza eating public did not approve.

Indeed, so serious was the reaction that Schnatter was forced to publish an op-ed piece where he sought to convince us that he never really intended to cut back worker hours but had simply been speculating on what he might do in response to the legislation.

According to YouGov BrandIndex,  a leading marketing survey that measures brand perception in the marketplace (called “Buzz”), Papa John’s had good reason for concern as the pizza chain’s brand identity has plummeted from a high of 32 on election day, to a remarkably low score of 4 among adults who have eaten at causal dining restaurants during the past month.


It also might have something to do with the fact that all the attention got people to notice that his product isn’t that great no matter what he said.

4 barks and woofs on “Humble Pie

  1. Schnatter’s timing was p###-poor as well. He made that announcement at nearly the same time he announced a “2 million free pizzas” promotion to coincide with the peak of football season. 2 million free pizzas as a promo, with a big NFL name on camera to help sell it? Brilliant. Cover the healthcare insurance for his employees? Geez – that’ll break the bank: it’s an extra 14 cents per pie (so he says) and he can’t afford that and customers won’t pay it.

    My guess is that with 25 million or so to blow on free food (never mind the cost of the advertising for the promo), contributing 10 cents per pie sold wouldn’t kill him. I’m surprised Papa John’s rating is still as high as 4.

    I daresay, though, that his gimmick will be the new yardsticks for “job creators” unable to afford their employees’ healthcare expenses: if you can afford a massive product promotion, then you can afford insurance. End of story.

    BTW my opinion of Jim Koch of Samuel Adams has gone up quite a bit thanks to Schnatter. Koch at least has fun doing what he does, and shows pleasure as well as pride promoting Sam Adams brews. Every time I see Schnatter on screen, it looks like it pains him to be in front of the camera. I’ll buy from someone who enjoys his work and is unaffectedly proud of his product long before I will from someone who hates his customers and only makes public appearances because his publicists tell him he has to.

  2. I havren’t had a PaPa Jonh’s in over 20yrs. I had this guys number long ago. If they are anti gay, right wing Jesus Freaks, I can spend my money elsewhere.

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