If you’re someone who vehemently believes that national anthem protests are badly harming the NFL’s business, Papa John’s is serving up a hearty portion of confirmation bias. ESPN’s Darren Rovell reports that the official pizza chain of the NFL has announced on a conference call that their current and future sales are suffering due to the protests:
“The NFL has hurt us,” company founder and CEO John Schnatter said. “We are disappointed the NFL and its leadership did not resolve this.”
Executives said the company has pulled much of its NFL television advertising and that the NFL has responded by giving the company additional future spots. “Leadership starts at the top and this is an example of poor leadership,” Schnatter said, noting he thought the issue had been “nipped in the bud” a year and a half ago.
At press time, Papa John’s stock is trading down over 8% on the day, and it’s down about 30% since last December.
There are a lot of elements at play here, obviously. Might it be that many consumers, independently of how they feel about the NFL and its derivative issues, have decided that they prefer Pizza Hut, Dominos, and/or local pizza establishments? Also, if the NFL is apparently giving them make-good advertising spots, does that mean they’ll have to follow suit with other blue chip sponsors?
Nevertheless, this is going to embolden the Jerry Jones and Bob McNair anti-protest camp, since regardless of the merits of Papa John’s claims it is an on-record impact on the league’s bottom line. If the owners are going to stop these protests, which are not expressly forbidden in the Collective Bargaining Agreement like they are in the NBA, they might have to give up some sort of concession to make them go away.