After Months of Anthem Controversy, Papa John’s May Not Buy Super Bowl Ad

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Papa John’s has advertised itself as the “official pizza of the National Football League,” but now reports say the chain is thinking of canceling its ads during this year’s Super Bowl.

After months of controversy over its NFL connections, the fast-food chain has not confirmed its participation in the upcoming event, according to the Louisville Courier Journal.

“We currently do not have a Super Bowl spot booked or produced, but are exploring our options in and around the game,” Papa John’s chief marketing officer Brandon Rhoten said. “I didn’t buy my Super Bowl spot last year until the Monday before the game, so you never know.”

Further complicating the pizza chain’s decision, is the controversy over comments by founder and now former CEO John Schnatter who said in October that the pizza chain had lost millions due to the NFL’s anthem protests.

Schnatter eventually apologized for saying that the NFL protests had hurt the company’s bottom line, but he was later ousted as CEO of the company over the ensuing controversy over his statements.

As founder of the company, Schnatter was also the face of Papa John’s on commercials on radio and TV. But now that he has been ousted as CEO his status as the brand’s spokesman has likely come to an end.

Still, despite Schnatter’s controversial comments, Papa John’s has hinted that the company does not feel beholden to the NFL.

“We can’t be beholden to their success. … We’ll take advantage of it, and when they win, we’ll win. But when they’re not doing as well, we don’t want to suffer,” Rhoten recently told Ad Age

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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