Crappy Politics, Crappy Leadership, Crappy Pizza: Papa John’s!

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” – Theodore Roosevelt

 Total NFL ratings through the first seven weeks declined 5% compared to this time last year, and 15% compared to 2015.

Oftentimes when blame is placed on a segment of society it is to deflect attention away from the true reasons for whatever circumstance has arisen due to the negligence of the blamer.   For example, the current president repeatedly accused his political adversaries of corruption. Meanwhile, two of his allies have been indicted on charges of corruption, one of which has already plead guilty.

Recently, Papa Johns founder and CEO John Schnatter, who donated to the campaign of Donald J. Trump, reportedly blamed his company’s poor sales on NFL players protesting.  From the standpoint of an activist, this would be great.  After all, the very idea of a protest is to disrupt the status quo in order to force the opposition to the bargaining table.  It is by attrition that the tyrannical are bested.  

Shaun King on Twitter

Bottom line, he’s a Trump supporter. Donated to him. Anti-union. Refuses to pay a living wage Don’t buy his pizza

However, as much as I would like any protest meant to better our society to be successful, the numbers say that Schnatter may have placed blame in the wrong place.

According to an article published in the Washington Post almost two years ago, financial analysts predicted that a then 24% drop in NFL viewership caused both Buffalo Wild Wings, Pizza Hut and Wing Stop to take severe hits. Analysts believed this was due to the season starting a week later than normal in 2015.  

But, according to Buffalo Wild Wings executives at the time, the drop in sales was due to holiday festivities instead of NFL viewership.  Now, according to Schnatter, NFL players who protest are the issue.  That and commissioner Roger Goodells approach to the problem. Conversely, this season sees Buffalo Wild Wings enjoying a 20% uptick as of Wednesday. BWW, which is heavily dependent upon Sunday traffic, is just as reliant on football as Papa John’s, so what gives?

The controversy is polarizing the customer, polarizing the country, CEO John Schnatter said Wednesday after the company had released softer sales figures. NFL leadership has hurt Papa Johns shareholders. This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago.

Yes, it is historically apropos for a man who calls Trump a personal friend to place the blame for his companys failures on someone else, similar to the president himself, but there is plenty of information to refute his statement.

Pizza Hut said the opposite: Were not seeing any impact from any of that on our business, said Greg Creed, who is CEO of Pizza Hut owner Yum Brands Inc.

Sales at Pizza Hut and Dominos rose, neither company believed the NFL was directly responsible, neither from fewer games or player protests. So, they didnt mention it.

They didnt need to find a political boogie man or philosophical scapegoat needed. 

CBS News on Twitter

Papa John’s CEO lost $70 million in one day after he made controversial comments about the NFL

According to Bloomberg, viewership is down 7% from a year ago through the first eight weeks of the season. Last years 8% decrease prompted the NFL to shorten commercials.

Theres just not as many people watching TV the way they used to watch TV, said Jeremy Carey, managing director of Optimum Sports, a sports marketing agency. Its going to be an issue for advertisers when they cant reach a large-scale audience the way they have.

 Viewership continues to drop faster than a brick thrown from a highway overpass among people under 54, which is a key demographic for advertisers, and among those 18 to 34.  There may not be as many people watching the NFL on TV, but there are certainly more people enjoying football on other mediums; games are now available on Verizon and Amazon platforms, plus additional Thursday Night games, the NFL-owned NFL Redzone and league subscription services like GamePass are inundating us with coverage like never before. 

It could be that people are just sick and tired of it.  The handling of players accused of domestic violence and sexual assault aside, the CTE sins of the NFL are still being revealed as well.  But, yeah, why not blame it on black people? Hell, why not!

TV executives believe its more complicated than that.

“I think there’s a question mark for the NFL, which is just to think hard about how they are licensing,” James Murdoch, chief executive officer of 21st Century Fox, said at a conference last week.

“The anthem protests have been less a factor than some people have claimed,” said Michael Mulvihill, executive vice president of research at Fox. “Even though (Mr. Trump) elevated the issue, you haven’t seen a negative impact.”

Business Insider on Twitter

Traders were betting against Papa John’s long before the NFL’s national anthem protests starte

Make no mistake about it, this is a political ploy by a man who has consistently used his sway against his own workers on issues of health care and overtime over the years. A man who clearly appears to have a problem with fairplay and equal rights for all, blames a protest led by black players for the decline of his subpar product?  I wish there was a punchline, but there isnt one.   

The NFL does not blame protests during the national anthem for the decline in viewership, Papa Johns competitors do not agree that their woes are connected to the protests, and even executive at Fox Sports are refuting this claim.

Keep politics out of pizza.

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