Most of the people that I’ve heard talking about John Schnatter’s ouster at Papa John’s, including those ever-wise (in their own minds) natterers at the WSJ seem to be willing to believe the popular narrative about the matter.
That is that John Schnatter sealed his fate for ouster when, in December of 2017, he called out the NFL for allowing its players to kneel, rather than stand during the national anthem as is the prescribed tradition, throughout the nation. Papa John’s had been a long-time sponsor at NFL games, and I recall, at the time, that Schnatter’s remarks were linked to the fact that the NFL had lost a substantial viewership with their nonsense about kneeling, thereby cutting into John Schnatter and Papa John’s profits substantially – because . . . this is rocket science, so follow carefully: No viewers equals no views of the Papa John’s ads, equals, as a result, no purchasers of products based on having been motived by having seen the ads. Seems pretty simple, wouldn’t you say? (I was joking about the rocket science.) And, it also seems like a very reasonable complaint for a major sponsor to have lodged. The only problem was that Schnatter happened to lodge it against one of the sacred cows of leftist politics in the country. Ergo, that kind of thing just isn’t tolerated. And, Mr. Schnatter had to go. His company and his hand-picked successor, Steve Ritchie, who had been in place for some months by that time, say that Schnatter is responsible for poor sales at the company and that his criticism of the NFL sent sales on a “downward trajectory” (if they don’t know how to manage a company, they, at least, know some fancy language to use in explaining away their failures). Now, let’s look at this case realistically: The NFL lost viewerships because the public was largely against players kneeling during the national anthem. Thus why would the public react badly and stop buying Papa John’s pizza because of Schnatter’s remarks about the thing that caused them to stop watching the NFL to start with? Doesn’t make any sense at all, does it? See what happens when one follows the “generally prescribed logic” of the WSJ and other news sources? One forgets to apply one’s own logic and reason to the situation – that’s what happens! Thus, let me make an assumption, without having had the advantage of looking at Papa John’s books – I’d say that by the time that Schnatter made his NFL remarks, he had been out of the CEO spot long enough that the business was beginning to enter a downturn. Thus, that “downward trajectory” that Ritchie talks about. That would be my reasoned assumption, having worked with Fortune 500 companies for several years now. But, whatever the reason for the business failing, Papa John’s founder is out, those who sought his ouster are pleased about that, and it appears that there is an all-out effort to divest him of his 30 percent ownership and ensure that he fades into the sunset. I’m not sure that I believe John Schnatter is the fading into the sunset type. More to follow . . .we’ll keep you informed as the drama continues to unfold.