(National Sentinel) Sports: Pizza franchise Papa John’s International, a long-time sponsor of the NFL, is reevaluating its ad buys in the wake of falling viewership over ongoing player protests of the American flag and National Anthem, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Leading executives at the company say they’re in weekly discussions with the league regarding the returns on their advertising dollars. They have said they’ll wait out the remaining season before deciding what to do next.

However, the WSJ noted that consumers’ shifting to digital channels is also causing the company to rethink the manner in which it advertises its products.

“We have to evaluate our reliance on partnerships that are TV-focused, like the NFL,” Papa John’s Chief Marketing Officer Brandon Rhoten said in an interview on Friday, two days after the company reported that falling TV viewership of NFL games hurt the company’s third-quarter sales.

TV viewership of games through the first seven weeks of the season fell by 5 percent but was down 15 percent from 2015, which was a strong season for the NFL.

Multiple sources and analyses have laid the blame squarely on the protests, which are upsetting to millions of fans, many of whom have sworn off football over the rift.

“If the viewership decline continues, we will need to shift into things that work more effectively for us,” Papa John’s President and Chief Operating Officer Steve Ritchie told the WSJ.

Papa John’s founder and Chief Executive John Schnatter said Wednesday that the league had demonstrated “poor leadership” by not resolving the issue already, adding that the protests are “polarizing the customer, polarizing the country.”

“We are anxiously awaiting a solution to be created. That’s what will put the league in a positive place for the players, the fan base and the partners associated with them,” said Ritchie.

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