Last fall, he complained that the National Football League had hurt Papa John’s sales by failing to handle football players who protested racism and police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem.No, the NFL players started by protesting Ferguson Mo, which means they sided with a black thug who tried to kill a white cop.
The comments were praised by white supremacists but denounced by many consumers and investors. Mr. Schnatter stepped down as chief executive. Papa John’s gave up a longtime sponsorship deal with the N.F.L. and was promptly replaced by Pizza Hut.
The latest furor stems from a May 22 conference call with Laundry Service, a marketing agency, that was intended to prepare him for future questions about diversity.So Schnatter just quoted someone a private call with his marketing firm?!
During the call, he was confronted about the N.F.L. uproar and asked whether he was racist, Mr. Schnatter wrote in a letter to the Papa John’s board that was reviewed by The New York Times. He denied the assertion and then, Mr. Schnatter wrote, he said Col. Harland Sanders, who founded the Kentucky Fried Chicken fast-food chain and was its longtime spokesman, used the racial slur to describe black people. Colonel Sanders died in 1980.
But Mr. Schnatter said he would never use that word.
“Let me be very clear: I never used the ‘N’ word in that meeting as a racial epithet, nor would I ever,” he wrote.
The day after the call, Papa John’s decided to fire Laundry Service, Mr. Schnatter wrote. The pizza company owed $1.3 million for the marketing firm’s services, but Laundry Service said that some of its employees had been offended by Mr. Schnatter’s comments on the call and demanded $6 million, with one of its lawyers threatening to conduct “a smear campaign,” Mr. Schnatter wrote. Papa John’s offered to pay $2.5 million, he wrote.
This appears to be simple extortion by the marketing firm. Even if Schnatter had made a racist comment, and it appears that he did not, the marketing firm had a confidential duty to suggest what should be said publicly. Instead, it decided to leak a distorted version of the conversation in order to force Papa John's to pay more money.
If the marketing firm's employees are really so offended, they could suggest that the firm quit working for Papa John's. But to demand that they get more money to compensate them for being offended?
I doubt that anyone will want to hire that marketing firm again.