Papa John’s Considering Small Name Change Amid Scandals

Papa John’s is not having the best year. So, in an effort to help change consumers’ image of the company, it has taken the first step to rebrand the once-popular pizza chain.

Ad Age reported that the pizza giant submitted paperwork in late August to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to tweak the spelling of its official name and use new logos. Instead of Papa John’s, with an apostrophe in the title, the company would like to trademark Papa Johns, without the punctuation mark in it.

Papa John’s filed for two different logo trademarks using the new moniker, one in black-and-white and the other with four colors: red, green, white, and black. The “s” at the end of Johns is smaller than all of the other letters in the new logos.

Why is the organization considering the grammatical change?

Papa John’s is trying to do all that it can to distance itself from the company’s founder, John Schnatter, who made several shocking comments over the past year that led him to step away from his own business, which he founded in 1984.

The troubles started in November of 2017 when Schnatter blamed the NFL’s handling of players’ national anthem protests for Papa John’s declining sales. The company was the official pizza sponsor of the NFL at the time, and its stock dropped. The following month, he stepped down as CEO, but remained the chairman of the company. However, in February, Papa John’s lost its eight-year deal with the NFL, and shares fell some more.

Then, in July, it was revealed that Schnatter had used the “n” word during a conference call two months prior. Following this news, Schnatter was forced to resign as chairman, and many of the companies Papa John’s had been working with — including marketing, public relations, and advertising agencies — cut ties with them.

Since then, the pizza chain has been trying to repair its image. They have already removed Shattner’s face from ads and marketing materials, including pizza boxes.

Papa John's John Shattner, 1/31/14
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 31: John H. Schnatter, Founder, Chairman & CEO of Papa John's International, Inc. rings the NASDAQ Opening Bell at NASDAQ MarketSite on January 31, 2014 in New York City. Featured image credit: Rob KimGetty Images

But the possessive in Papa John’s name alludes to it still being owned by Shattner. He is still its largest shareholder, but he cannot make any official decisions regarding the company.

And, because of all that, executives are allegedly thinking about dropping the apostrophe from Papa John’s.

A spokesperson told Ad Age that there are “no imminent plans” to use the new moniker.

A trademark attorney told the media outlet that it takes about four months for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to approve a new application anyway.