Papa John's founder John Schnatter creates website to tell his employees: 'I miss you'
Regardless of whether you're a bleeding heart or the equivalent of a fleshy cyborg, the fact of the matter remains: breakups suck. Opening yourself up physically and emotionally to another person is always tough, and when that deep connection is severed for one reason or another, it's hard to carry on as if nothing's happened.
One of life's universal experiences, we all deal with the pain of heartbreak in different ways. Some curl up in isolation for days on end, some (read: me) write terrible poetry, but these are healthy (ish) ways of dealing with your anguish. Less healthy? Creating a website for your former beloved, not to mention taking out a newspaper ad that says: "I miss you".
While the public separation of pizza company Papa John's from its founder, John Schnatter isn't your typical breakup at first glance, the drawn-out nature of this conscious uncoupling - not to mention Schnatter's... passionate attempts to get back together with the company he built from the ground up - remind me quite a lot of my own breakup experiences, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.
If you happened to pick up a copy of the Louisville Courier-Journal on Wednesday on your way to work at Papa John's headquarters in Kentucky, you might have noticed that your former boss had left you a personal message, not unlike the kind of message a divorced dad will send to his estranged kids. Just replace "Papa John's" with "your mother".
“I miss you all very much. More than words can express!” starts off John Schnatter, before grumbling that Papa John's (your mother) "will not let me talk to you and that has been very difficult". Fortunately, Schnatter decides not to pour out his entire heart in this newspaper ad. Unfortunately, he does redirect you to a website where he does exactly that.
"I built Papa John’s from the ground up and remain its largest shareholder," says Schnatter on www.savepapajohns.com, which you might recognise as being a slightly unorthodox business practice, and an act that would convince a judge to give your ex-wife full custody of your children. “The board wants to silence me. So this is my website, and my way to talk to you.”
Let's not forget, folks, that John Schnatter was forced to resign in the first place because he dropped the N-word on a conference call, which in itself was designed to prep Schnatter for the media after a series of PR snafus involving the then-CEO over the past year or so (safe to say, that did not go well).
It's not like he was ousted unfairly or anything, and that's exactly the point that Papa John's are making. "No matter what John does, he will not be able to distract from the inappropriate comments he made," they replied pretty sharply after the ad. "We appreciate this support and are confident we are taking the right steps to move the company forward."
"We are not, nor should we be, dependent on one person. Papa John’s is 120,000 corporate and franchisee team members around the world. Stakeholders, including customers, franchisees, employees, and investors, have expressed strong support for the actions we have taken to separate our brand from Mr. Schnatter."
Ice cold, Papa John's. Well, with the company determined to move on but Papa John himself still convinced he can repair the relationship, it's only a matter of time before John Schnatter shows up at Papa John's HQ in the rain with a boombox, or attempts to reconnect with his employees by pretending to be their nanny.
At least that's what the movies tell me.