After the recent controversy involving NFL players kneeling before the National Anthem at the beginning football games, long time NFL sponsor Papa John’s Pizza no longer displays the NFL Logo or indications of sponsorship on its official website.
While no reference as to the reasons given has been made readily publicly available, there exists the possibility the company might be having at least reservations with presently displaying a logo engendering increasing disfavor with large segments of its customer base.
Papa John’s once branded itself as the Official Pizza of the NFL.
I have been loosely following reactions to NFL sponsors in light of the recent controversy and how the backlash is affecting the NFL’s brand and image. Discovering that Papa John’s Pizza has for several years been in sponsorship with the NFL, I connected to the company’s website to see if the site continued the NFL’s promotion.
The site did not show an NFL partnership yet did indicate the company’s sponsorship of Visa with a promotion for “Visa Checkout” and another with Major League Baseball with their “Papa Slam” offer.
Using the web archiving service Wayback Machine via its database for papajohns.com a sampling of dates from late July to September 19th prominently displays the NFL logo and the words “Official pizza sponsor of the NFL”. Again, this is not present in today’s website version or those since last Wednesday when I began my inquiry.
Here are comparative images between the two timeframes:
I considered the possibility the omission of NFL references was a miscommunication or technical issue but I doubt this. Why would an official sponsor, who at significant cost and effort, remove a prominent sports sponsor from its official website during the league’s season? It is curious at least, especially given the money involved. In my opinion if the removal was intentional perhaps the relationship between the two chilled or the company might be hanging low until the controversy mostly subsides.
Turning to the social media website Twitter, references to the NFL recently received a strong rebuke through a hot flaming by users. One recent reference to the Denver Broncos by Papa John’s received sixty “likes” and 151 replies, nearly all of which were protests to the NFL partnership with Papa John’s or criticism of the NFL and its players.
If the absence of NFL logos and references to Papa John’s sponsorship is not something otherwise, it could be indicative of the current fallout among sponsors through an expensive breaking with the NFL. This certainly could plague the league if a chief revenue source continues to regard an association with the NFL as bad for business.
By Darren Smith
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