We know that Black girls are magic, but they also often have to clean up other people’s messes. That’s what marketing extraordinaire Bozoma Saint John has been brought on board to do, as she attempts to help disgraced pizza chain Papa John’s get through its current PR nightmare.
Last month, after a series of previous public controversies (i.e. the comments about the NFL National Anthem protest,) troubled pizza chain Papa John’s found itself in the middle of its worst nightmare yet, when former company CEO John Schnatter used the N-word in a meeting. Schnatter was forced to step down from the company for which he was the sole face and Papa John’s subsequent sales and reputation has continued to tank in the weeks following the controversy.
Now, in an effort to save what’s left of the company, Papa John’s has enlisted marketing whiz Bozoma Saint John to help clean up its tarnished image and hopefully get things back on track. Saint John has held high-profile positions with some of the biggest companies in the world, including Uber, Apple Music and Pepsi and currently holds a position as the new chief marketing officer at Endeavor Global Marketing.
Saint John has an uphill battle ahead of her, as the majority of the black community is not even remotely interested in giving Papa John’s a second chance. In an interesting twist, when Saint John, who was hired by EGM earlier this summer, found out that her new company was brought on to help Papa John’s she lobbied to be put into the central position to help them through the current PR crisis.
Speaking with Adweek, Saint John explained why she feels Papa John’s needs her help through such a trying time:
“This is a really pivotal moment not just for Papa John’s, but for all corporate businesses and all brands that service a larger group of people. Our culture has become even more sensitive to anything we feel is outside of our moral compass, and as a brand we acknowledge that.”
Saint John’s team is currently hard at work on a new marketing campaign for Papa John’s that is set to debut in the fall. She also acknowledged that a mere apology is not enough to fix the damage that was done to the brand and that EGM has to find a way to deeply connect with consumers.
“This isn’t an apology ad campaign,” she said. “It has to be cultural and deeply moving … the 120,000 employees of Papa John’s are not defined by one individual. How can we as EGM not just create a new narrative based on a value proposition, but convey what is truly inside Papa John’s?”
We’re all for black women doing their thing in high-profile business positions and we applaud Bozoma Saint John, but we’d be lying if we said that an ad campaign is going to get us to rush back to a company that has shown its true colors more than once.