Papa John’s has hired Camp & King as its new creative agency after parting ways with Endeavor Global Marketing after only one year.
The latest agency switch comes after Chief Marketing Officer Karlin Linhardt joined the No. 4 U.S. pizza chain in March and as it prepares to launch advertising featuring brand ambassador Shaquille O’Neal.
Papa John’s is still trying to overcome sales declines largely pegged to the comments made by its founder and now former executive John Schnatter. The company dealt with a torrent of negative publicity in the wake of his comments about the NFL’s handling of player protests in the fall of 2017, which he pegged to the company’s sales weakness since it was an NFL sponsor at the time. In July 2018 Forbes reported on his use of the n-word on a training call with Laundry Service.
Last week, Papa John’s said this year’s decline in sales at longstanding locations shouldn’t be as steep as it had anticipated, in part thanks to the optimism it has about O’Neal’s work as a brand ambassador. The company said it would spend an additional $40 million on marketing in the second half of 2019 and in 2020.
Camp & King is starting on its work as Papa John’s creative and strategic agency partner immediately, the pizza chain said in a statement. Camp + King’s Chicago office will lead the work, headed by Kristin Barbour, managing director, Chicago, with support from its San Francisco headquarters. Production of the campaign featuring O’Neal will be lead by Amir Farhang, a filmmaker who works with Hungry Man Productions and has worked with the former NBA player in the past.