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Papa John’s Branding Blemish Leads to Pulling NFL Game Ads?

branding blunders

by Kenneth Rudich

Anyone else curious about the conspicuous absence of Papa John’s commercials during the NFL playoff games this past weekend (January 14 and 15, 2012)?

I engaged in the unusual practice of confining my bathroom trips to game time moments only, so I could observe what would – or would not – transpire during the commercial breaks.  I was essentially wondering if I would see a Papa John’s ad, given what happened a few days earlier with the racial slur on the receipt handed out at a New York franchise location.

I didn’t see any.  Did you?  Anyone?

Brand Management by Un-design

I can’t say for certain that Papa John’s ever had plans to advertise during the football games before the unsavory receipt incident occurred.

Though it would seem more likely they had planned on it as part of their ongoing NFL campaign this season, but then decided to withdraw on the heels of the aforementioned incident.

Or possibly they wanted to advertise but the NFL requested they don’t, for fear the tagline about them being an official sponsor of the NFL would reflect poorly on the…well…NFL.  After all, the NFL is acutely image-conscious.  They know what they want to project – or in this case, not project.  The word “distance” probably crept into mind immediately upon hearing about the racially tainted receipt.

And would it not have been especially awkward to put up a commercial during the New York Giant’s game?  Talk about heaping a branding blunder atop another branding blunder!  Not just for the pizza maker, but for the NFL as well.

With all the games that still lay ahead (including another New York Giants appearance), and with the humongous tv audiences they will surely attract, this circumstance will keep my curiosity piqued (though I’ll probably revert back to doing my rest stops during the commercials).

How will they navigate the potential minefield up ahead?  What do you think?  


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