Papa John's evaluates NFL sponsorship as ratings fall over player protests

Papa John's has blamed poor leadership following player protests for declining NFL ratings

Top executives at Papa John’s have blamed NFL leaders for a “significant decline” in TV ratings which have, in turn, affected the brands quarterly earnings leading it to evaluate its sponsorship options.

Speaking during a conference call with Wall Street analysts Papa John’s chief, John Schnatter, said: “NFL leadership has hurt Papa John’s shareholders,” pointing toward the ongoing angst over player protests, one of the major factors in the league’s tumbling ratings.

Laying the blame with commissioner Roger Goodell, Schnatter said the pizza chain was “disappointed that NFL and its leadership did not resolve the ongoing situation to the satisfaction of all parties this year year-and-a-half. Good or bad, leadership starts at the top and this is an example of poor leadership.”

Chief marketing officer, Brandon Rhoten, echoed Schnatter’s comments, revealing the “significant decline” in ratings had lead Papa John’s to “have a look at other investment to create that consumer preference of our brand.”

However, speaking during a fireside chat with Oath chief executive officer,Tim Armstrong, at R/GA's offices, NBCUniversal’s head of advertising, Linda Yaccarino, said advertisers hadn’t bailed on the NFL, but did admit that anthem protests by players had hurt ratings.

“I don’t think there’s any way to prove it, but I do think that it has affected ratings,” she said, adding: “There is a list of advertisers that have made themselves very clear: ‘If you continue to cover the political coverage of the issue we will not be part of the NFL’.

“Think about it - they have half the country that is cheering about that and half the country that is emailing them saying, ‘Don’t do that.’ That’s a real thing.”

Despite the turmoil advertisers such as Kohl’s and Buffalo Wild Wings have expressed confidence in the NFL claiming they are undeterred by the controversy and how it has been handled.

Additionally, NBC sales executive, Don Lovinger, has said inventory for Super Bowl LII is nearly sold out.

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