Papa John’s is to distancing itself from founder John Schnatter by releasing new ads that replace him all the different, real people that make up the 120,000 corporate and franchise team member Papa John’s family.

The commercials show several franchisees looking into the camera and introducing themselves to viewers.  “You’ve heard one voice of Papa John’s for a long time,” one of them says, followed by another who says, “It’s time you heard from all of us.” At the end, the company’s logo substitutes “John’s” with the first names of each of the franchisees until it settles on the logo again.

“That was a way to really reinforce that this is a brand that belongs to everyone,” says Melissa Richards-Person, who oversaw the ads as the company’s vice president of global brand strategy. “This isn’t a single person’s brand.”

The pizza chain began removing Schnatter’s image from its logos, pizza boxes and restaurants over the summer after it was revealed that he used a racial slur during a media training session. Schnatter, who apologized and resigned as chairman, said his comments were taken out of context.

The company hired film maker Ramaa Mosley to direct the new ads. The company said Mosley is the first woman to direct one of its commercials.

The ads emphasize that Papa John’s customers support business owners, delivery drivers, store managers and pizza specialists in their area support their local communities in a variety of ways.

Besides TV, the ads will also appear on Facebook, Twitter and the company’s site,

Victoria Russell, diversity chief of Papa John’s, said she spent the summer visiting franchisees around the country, many of whom said they were losing sales because of what one person said. Russell said the ads could help show the diversity of the company.

“We’re so much bigger than one person,” she said.


The Associated Press contributed to this story


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