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Pizza Hut and Papa John's Jump into NFL Controversy

TempShould CEOs get involved in political controversies? While some applaud "brand activism," others criticize business leaders who don't agree with their views.

Papa John's CEO has been vocal about the business impact of NFL players not standing during the national anthem. When explaining same-store sales, John Schnatter blamed NFL leadership:

"We are totally disappointed that the NFL and its leadership did not resolve the ongoing situation to the satisfaction of all parties long ago. This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago."

Schnatter also said, "Leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership." Schnatter contributed $1,000 to President Trump's election campaign and is aligned with the president's views on the subject. He blamed the "polarizing" actions of team members for causing declining viewership and fewer pizza orders. 

But others say NFL viewership was declining long before this political controversy, and Pizza Hut jumped into the conversation. Greg Creed, CEO of Yum! Brands, Pizza Hut's parent company, said the NFL hasn't affected its sales at all.

Daniel Roberts tweeted stock comparisons on Yahoo to show that Papa John's (in red) has been declining for some time. Yum Brands is in blue. But we should be careful about comparing "apples and oranges" here.


  • How is the stock comparison flawed? (Hint: What companies are compared?)
  • What do you think of Papa John's CEO's statements? Should he stay out of it, or is he right to express his views?
  • How is this story an issue of leader integrity?