Major League Baseball has reinstated its promotional partnership with Papa John’s International Inc. after suspending a game-day deal in June 2018 in the wake of controversial racial comments by the pizza chain’s then-CEO.
Papa John’s and the MLB are again offering the “Papa Slam” promotion, which this year rewards customers with 30% off total orders any time a league baseball player hits a grand slam. Last year, the promotion was 40% off just pizza.
The league indefinitely suspended the deal after the resignation of John Schnatter, the chain’s founder, CEO and chair.
However, following numerous steps the struggling pizza chain has taken to regain its reputation, including most recently adding former basketball superstar Shaquille O’Neal to its board of directors, the baseball league quietly brought back the Papa John’s promotion.
Although the sports organization did not formally announce the return of the partnership, but MLB mentioned Papa John’s on Twitter Thursday after Philadelphia Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins hit an opening-day grand slam.
A Papa John’s representative Friday confirmed the reinstated promotion, stating that “after seeing all of the steps that Papa John’s has taken to change its organization, MLB is reinstituting the Papa Slam promotion for the 2019 season.”
The representative for the Louisville, Ky.-based company also confirmed that the pizza chain will be reinstating their partnerships on a local level with some individual MLB teams, including the Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers and Washington Nationals.
“Both baseball and pizza are loved across generations and bring people together around a shared passion,” said Karlin Linhardt, global chief marketing officer of Papa John’s, in a statement. “We are thrilled to partner with MLB and help customers celebrate those shared passions through exclusive offers, benefits for Papa Rewards members and fun surprises throughout the season.”
This is the latest development in Papa John’s efforts to shake off the damage from brand controversies.
Earlier this year, the pizza chain named its first chief of diversity, equity and inclusion and first chief people officer. The company also accepted a $200 million investment from hedge fund Starboard Value LLC and named Starboard CEO Jeffrey C. Smith to its board.
MLB did not respond to requests for comment.
As of Dec. 30, Papa John’s had 5,303 locations worldwide.
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