Brands and politics: Does joining the fray hurt or help the bottom line?

Papa John’s is the latest company to benefit from a fan-organized event following backlash over an executive’s controversial stance.

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According to organizers, around 20,000 participants agreed to buy a pizza from Papa John’s for “Papa John’s Day” in support of statements from CEO John Schnatter’s comments that the Affordable Care Act will force him to raise the price of the chain’s food and cut employee hours. Groups who support the health care law (often called Obamacare) have threatened to boycott the pizza chain.

The rally around the Papa John’s brand is similar to the one Chick-fil-A experienced after its COO, Dan Cathy, made controversial statements about gay marriage.

Fan-created events like Papa John’s Day certainly help a company’s sales for one day, but do they help in the long run, particularly since they result from divisive politics? Some experts say they just might.

Sea change?

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