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Papa John's is pulling founder's image from its marketing

AP  |  New York 

Papa John's, which has featured founder in and TV ads, is pulling his image from its marketing after reports he used a racial slur.

His face was off at least some materials by late morning today, though the company said the details and exact timing for everything were still being worked out. The said there are no plans to change its name.

Schnatter,who has long been the face of the brand, is still on the board and is the company's largest shareholder meaning he remains a key presence.

Papa John's has acknowledged in regulatory filings that its business could be hurt if Schnatter's reputation was damaged.

Papa John's got a taste of that last year, when Schnatter stepped down as after blaming disappointing pizza sales on the outcry surrounding football players kneeling during the national anthem.

This week, Papa John's was already trying to further publicly distance itself from Schnatter after reported he used the N-word during a conference call in May. Schnatter apologized and said he would resign as

That prompted the company's stock to recover some of the losses it suffered after the report, and shares were up 1 per cent today. Schnatter owns nearly 30 per cent of the stock.

In addition to appearing in TV ads, Schnatter's image has been on packaging and at the center of a logo that usually was all over the company's website.

Keith Hollingsworth, a with Morehouse College's business department, said keeping Schnatter in the marketing and would signal to people that the company does not have a problem with his comments, or that it doesn't think they are a big deal.

"Five years from now, they might be able to start bringing him back. But at the moment, you have to be very decisive and show you take this very seriously," Hollingsworth said.

Schnatter had used the slur during a media training exercise, said.

When asked how he would distance himself from racist groups, Schnatter reportedly complained that Sanders never faced a backlash for using the word. Schnatter subsequently issued a statement acknowledging the use of "inappropriate and hurtful" language.

"Regardless of the context, I apologize," the statement said.

The fallout has already included League Baseball indefinitely suspending a promotion with Louisville, Kentucky-based Papa John's that offered people discounts at the after a hit a grand slam.

The also said Schnatter resigned from its board of trustees, and that the school will evaluate the naming arrangement for Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, according to the Courier-Journal.

began operations in 1984 and had more than 5,200 locations globally.

The company cannot afford to alienate customers, with sales already under pressure from rivals such as For the first three months of this year, Papa John's said a key sales figure fell 5.3 per cent in

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, July 13 2018. 23:20 IST