Just as the Chick-fil-A public relations disaster is finally dying down, another fast food giant has made a similar controversial political statement. Papa John’s International CEO John Schnatter was quoted as saying that costs incurred from President Barack Obama’s health care initiative would be passed on to customers to protect shareholders.
“We’re not supportive of Obamacare, like most businesses in our industry. But our business model and unit economics are about as ideal as you can get for a food company to absorb Obamacare,” Schnatter said, according to Politico. “If Obamacare is in fact not repealed, we will find tactics to shallow out any Obamacare costs and core strategies to pass that cost onto consumers in order to protect our shareholders’ best interests.”
Facebook and Twitter were ablaze with criticism for Schnatter and for Papa John’s after the comment, both for speaking critically of the health care law and for the company’s willingness to spare shareholders at the expense of customers.
Papa John’s’ and Chick-fil-A’s ventures into political debates were pretty disastrous, but their loss can be your gain if you use their poor example as a cautionary tale and a learning experience. What these companies demonstrated is the importance of staying out of sensitive political dialogue — especially when it isn’t related to your business. Rather than potentially alienating a large percentage of your customer base, instead choose to maintain distance between your brand and any debate over politics.
In this week’s episode of “Future of Engagement,” Murray Newlands talks about where Papa John’s went wrong, how to avoid similar mistakes and the reason getting involved in politics is bad for your brand.
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