5 marketing mistakes papa johns made and why you can learn from them

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5 marketing mistakes papa johns made and why you can learn from them

Recently there has been an uproar about Papa Johns and their massive marketing mistakes, which will likely hurt the company much more than help it.  It's not always true that bad publicity is good publicity, because in this case, Papa Johns took a serious hit after what they did.  I'm sure you know what Papa Johns is, at least you should if you live within the United States, because they advertise all the time on TV during prime time and even during big sporting events like the super bowl.  I'm sure you've heard their slogan of "Better Ingredients, Better Pizza, Papa Johns" since its said in every single commercial they've ever aired.  The CEO of Papa Johns came under fire after some words he said about the NFL, which was a touchy subject even without him interjecting, since the words he said were about the national anthem and how the NFL players hurt his brand kneeling. 

The Papa Johns company basically blamed the players, as well as the NFL owners, for their own drop in sales as well as a lower stock price due to all the actions taken by the players themselves and the owners doing nothing about it.  The owners of Papa Johns were basically pointing their fingers at the NFL claiming it was their fault, which isn't something you should do if you run a multi-million dollar corporation.

Soon after the Papa Johns company started pointing fingers, they came under fire by the media as well as on talk shows around the world.  Not a single other company stepped forward to say the NFL was to blame for a drop in sales, if they had any at all, because it's not a smart business move.  Over time, Papa Johns decided to apologize for their actions and words, but a lot of people think they only did it to save face. 

It doesn't matter what industry you're in, if you bite the hand that feeds you, you will soon see why they are the powerful partner that you wanted to work with.  So, to take a few notes from what Papa Johns did, here are some things you SHOULD NOT do when you're running a business, and those things are:

Don't point fingers at others for your lack of success
If you start to see a drop in sales, don't point your finger at a business partner or a source of sales and claim they are the reason for your drop in profits.  Instead, figure out exactly what is going on and find a way to figure out how to fix it.  If you're just pointing fingers at whoever you think the problem is, you're likely going to hurt more than just one business relationship.  Your other partners will see this and think "They have no data or statistics to back up their claims, which means they could start to do the same thing against us, and hurt our own sales".  This will always result in a different partner, or multiple partners, dropping contracts with you because they don't want to be affiliated with a company that plays the blame game.

Stop putting all your eggs in one basket
What Papa Johns did was strike up a huge marketing agreement with the NFL and spend a ton of money pushing commercials through the channels they were on, during the games being played.  They were essentially putting all their eggs in one advertising basket because they were solely working with the NFL and relying on all the viewers to purchase their pizzas.  Eventually, the NFL cut ties with Papa Johns due to the allegations, and now Papa Johns is really starting to suffer.

It doesn't matter how big your marketing partner is, if you talk bad about them, they will cut you off and it will hurt.  If you were relying on them to help you generate sales, you're not screwed because they aren't showing your ads or commercials to their viewers.

Don't bring politics into business
Papa Johns injected themselves into the political argument when the NFL players were kneeling during the national anthem.  This is something that should be avoided at all costs, because you never know where it's going to go.  Sure, the NFL probably lost a decent amount of advertisers and partners, but you didn't see any of them interjecting about what should be done about the players and how it was hurting their sales.  The smart companies stayed quiet and stuck with the NFL or broke ties with them all together, which is what Papa Johns should have done.  Actually, Papa Johns should have been on the NFL's side no matter what they were saying, because the NFL was the hand feeding them.

It's fine to have a political opinion when you are a major corporation, but you shouldn't actively try to voice your opinion every chance you get.  Stay out of controversial political battles, because they never end well, even if you're on the winning side.

Don't throw your business partners under the bus
When you see your business partners struggling, or having an internal problem, you shouldn't try to throw them under the bus for something.  You're partnered with this company, and they're partnered with you, but they never said anything negative about your company because they're professional.  If you voice your negative opinions on the first sign of anything going wrong with your partners, you won't be in business for long.

You need to voice your concerns about your own business and don't tell any partner what to do, or what not to do, and you will be a happier business owner.  It doesn't matter if you're making thousands, or millions, you need to stay out of your partners business unless they invite you in for help.  They know what they're doing with their industry, and you're just an outsider.

Don't have a single person or mascot as your brand ambassador
Papa Johns was started by a family, is family owned, and the founder was actually named John.  The guy who is in the commercials is the actually the CEO and founder of the company, which is odd when you think of how many companies actually use the real founder within commercials.  Papa Johns will likely keep John as the spokesperson, but they should learn from other companies and rotate brand ambassadors. 

Having a single person or mascot could actually stall out your sales and profits due to getting stuck in a rut.  Think of KFC and how they rotate their spokesperson more often than any other company right now.  It seems like they have a new person acting as the colonel every few months, and their sales only increased due to all the famous people acting as the famous colonel in the commercials.  Not many people are thinking of starting up a Papa Johns franchise, even before all of this happened, but they do want to get into a KFC franchise due to the great marketing and great ROI.

In conclusion
Papa Johns made some crucial mistakes with their words, and marketing, in order to dig their own grave in the marketing world.  They put all their eggs in one basket, got political, bit the hand that fed them, and so many more things in order to hurt their own profits and stock prices.  On another side of things, the pizza from Papa Johns isn't even that good lol 5 marketing mistakes papa johns made and why you can learn from them  Try not to be like Papa Johns, be like you and mind your own business if something negative is happening to your partners.  Withdraw your contracts with them or stick it through to build a better partnership, but NEVER try to hurt their image with your negative words.

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Papa John's has good pizza, but around here they made me mad because the news was promoting if you put in a certain code, around here it was 8 Sports Blitz you got a free Papa John's pizza..well they conveniently "forgot" to had to buy a pizza first in order to get the free one. It seems like a scheme that Papa John's and the local network dreamed up.

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Indeed you can learn from the tricks of some businesses like their unique promo of buying and then getting a freebie in your next purchase. But if the sales would still be dwindling regardless of the promo then you might be stepping on the wrong foot. Perhaps you need to check on the kind of market that you have. Take note that fast food outlets are concentrating on the children for their client base.

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Well! This one has me scratching my head. That's what I get for not paying attention to Papa John's mistakes and just enjoying their pizza. Was not aware of these mistakes. It didn't hurt their sales at my house. Decisions about pizza at my house are simply based on the best deals or coupons. 5 marketing mistakes papa johns made and why you can learn from them

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Awesome assertions which would help any business owner to grow.I really believe that having many sources and way of getting a business out there is just the deal.Nobody should just remain at a spot so as not to get stuck.Throw your hands into many pies and be a master of one or two things.Treat your partners and employee to bring out the best in them for the good of the business.Thanks for analyzing was really helpful.

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I agree with your observations. In my opinion their main problem is that they alienated a segment of their clients who supported the kneeling down of NFL players and do not support President Trump. That was not a smart move on their part.From what I can see in the US, the traditional market is changing because millennials don't want the same things. They should do a little market research and adjust their products and marketing accordingly. However they may be right, maybe some people associated them with the actions of the NFL players and consider them unpatriotic.

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They say experience is the best teacher but knowing someone else's mistakes and learning from them will make us to be extra cautious. Politics is a bad game and I have seen it affecting many businesses. I have seen my classmates ending up in a serious argument while discussing about politics and their favorite leader. This is a widely made mistake I won't want to encourage.

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Great advice as usual and I agree. I think a lot of these companies nowadays think it's so trendy and hip to put their noses into current issues and politics and they think that it will get them a lot of traction, but in most cases it just causes people to see right through what they are trying to do and make their consumers lose some affection for their brand. I have seen it also in some other brands getting called out for virtue signalling in their ad campaigns and had they just kept to what they need to be doing which is to emphasize what they are good at instead of trying to attach themselves to political causes they could have avoided a lot of hate.

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I fully agree that politics has no place in the business just like religion. A good businessman keeps a distance from those 2 deadly issues – politics and religion. It is easy to lose customers just like what happened to Papa John pizza when it meddled in the kneeling issue of the athletes against Donald Trump. Oh well, that’s a neat lesson to us that in business, politics should not be in the way.

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Yes, I am not sure how much it hurt their business in actuality, but a certain segment of the population was extremely disturbed by the actions of the football players and may have decided to boycott Papa John's because of it..Sad for them!

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This is a great post. I learned so many things about marketing. Interesting I have never made any of these mistakes (just because I did not know these tactics LOL).
One mistake that I have never committed is putting all eggs in one basket.
I learned this lesson during my initial days of marketing. I was publishing on helium, when the site shut down, I lost my income stream. I learned the lesson and began publishing on various platforms.
When I fail (I have failed many times), I never accuse anyone. Instead, I accuse my lack of skills.

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I really loved this post--I liked it not only for its practical information but because it also re-affirmed a more stripped-down and common sense approach to marketing and corporate presentation. It's strange, though, that corporations like Chik Fil A can stick themselves into pretty controversial issues, but they have lines wrapped around their establishment drive-thrus all day and night (except on Sundays, of course). This makes me think that is also ultimately about the product itself--pizza can be a bit generic across the board, when it comes to the chains, but a particular and unique sandwich recipe is something people seem to keep going back to, over and over, regardless of the political or religious stance of the company's owners or administration.

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