Papa John's quickly rebounds from franchise's foul actions

Papa John's Pizza recently found itself apologizing for the actions of one of its franchises.

In the news
Papa John's Pizza recently found itself apologizing for the actions of one of its franchises. In a statement distributed to Cleveland and northern Ohio media May 4, it called a DC-based franchise's unauthorized circulation of T-shirts emblazoned with the Papa John's logo and Cry Baby 23 in reference to Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James's complaints of hard fouls "in poor taste." It "sincerely apologize[d] to Cavalier fans and LeBron James."

The shirts were circulated during an NBA playoff game between the Washington Wizards and the Cavaliers in DC. They echoed the sentiments of Wizards center Brendan Haywood's ridicule of James for complaining about being fouled hard by opponents.

Papa John's, a Wizards sponsor for 10-plus years, acted quickly to mollify offended fans. It donated $10,000 to the Cavaliers Youth Fund, an additional $10,000 to the LeBron James Family Foundation, and gave Cleveland customers one-topping pizzas for 23 cents on May 8.

Why does it matter?
Good or bad, a local franchise's independent actions can be attributed to a company's national marketing efforts.

Dave Fogelson, Octagon Worldwide director of worldwide communications and PR, says, "Certainly, [Papa John's] was negatively portrayed. Obviously, the DC franchise was attempting to endear itself to the Wizards' fan-base, and it backfired."

He notes, though, that the company's immediate response distances it from the malicious marketing stunt, and its 23 cent pies and nonprofit donations were a good move.

"Papa John's cause marketing tie-in speaks well to any audience," says Fogelson, creating good will and traffic to pizza parlors.

Five facts:
1. In 2006, Papa John's broke the Guinness World Record for the largest one-day pizza delivery by using a franchise's idea to deliver 13,500 pizzas to a naval ship.

2. Baskin Robbins' 31 Cent Scoop Night, which debuted in San Diego franchises before becoming a national event, benefits the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

3. New York City restaurant chains with more than 15 locations began publishing calorie counts of menu items to comply with a new city rule.

4. Gold's Gym expanded on its Paramus, NJ, franchise's fundraising efforts with the American Diabetes Assoc. to partner with the nonprofit on its gyms across the US.

5. Franchising contributed 1.2 million jobs and 140,000 businesses to the US economy from 2001 to 2005, finds a recently released PricewaterhouseCoopers study.

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