Does Papa John’s Franchise Dislike The Cleveland Cavaliers Franchise?


Being a franchise industry blogger based in Cleveland has it's ups and downs. Here is a down:

"Cuyahoga County, metropolitan Cleveland's largest county, is now ranked #1!"

Number #1 for what, you might ask? Cuyahoga County has more people moving away, than any other county in the country. Terrrrific……
Here is an "up"……

Being a franchise blogger, here in Cleveland, means I get to easily get involved in the Papa John's awesome marketing campaign! And…The name of this blog, The Franchise King Blog shares it's name with none other than Lebron James, himself. When I set up my Google Alerts, this blog comes up in the daily results, right next to The Franchise King, Lebron James. Lebron is also known as "The King of Ohio", and "King James"

{There are rumors floating around that the two "Franchise King's" are in very intense negotiations about The Franchise King web address. They are totally untrue, but this Franchise King is willing to consider the sale of it, for the right terms.}

It seems that during the last Cavs-Wizards Basketball playoff game in Washington DC, a Papa John's franchisee took it upon himself {or herself} to print up some t-shirts in a special way for the game.

Here it is:


Nice looking, with a Papa John's logo, too!

So, what's the problem????The 1st problem is that King James is not a crybaby. For those of you who watched this playoff series, Lebron was hammered every time he went up to the basket! So during the many interviews after each game, he was seen as a "crybaby" by DC fans, when he discussed the physical aspect of getting hammered so much by the Wizards, and their physical style.

Anyway, back to the franchisee. being a franchisee in a franchise system means that you have invested your own money in somebody else's system. Part of what this system that you have invested with brings to the table is their marketing plans, their advertising templates, logos, and some branding.{The branding part may be just beginning, or be very well branded like Subway, or AAMCO.}

So, the franchisor has invested a lot of money into the development of the logo, the advertising materials, and the marketing strategy. That is good! Now, the logo is on the shirt, and locally, we have some upset fans. So Good, posted about this story, and here is a Fox 8 News Video with more detail.

Look at this goofy video I did. {Some 3-point shots were made!}

In Papa John's case they have thousand's of franchises, and are pretty well branded, in their segment of food franchising. I don't thing Papa John's corporate "approved this message."

Since I started writing this article, Papa John's has officially apologized, proving that a solid PR company is so very important in the franchise industry, and elsewhere. I use this one.

So, what happens when a franchisee takes it upon himself, or herself, to use the corporate logo, along with an "unapproved" message? In the case of Papa John's they are certainly getting some great PR!!!
Their apology is a Home Run! Here is what they are doing, according to the Cleveland Blog-Behind The Lens

"They are donating $10,000 to the Cavaliers Youth Fund, and this
Thursday all Papa Johnss Cleveland locations will be offering Large 1-Topping
pizzas for 23 cents (pick-up only)."

Now, I have 2 questions that I am hoping some franchise attorney's will comment on:

1. Can the franchisee in DC lose his franchise license for this incident?

2. What should future franchisees of any franchise concept be aware of in their franchise agreements, concerning use of marketing materials/logos?

Go Cavs!


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  • Kyle

    Hey Joel. Nice topic. A few comments –
    1. That was a very physical series – more than 7 flagrant fouls (my last count) and 2 techs, and LeBron took some hard hits. So to call him a crybaby just for his comments about the Wizards targeting him is a little overboard, mainly b/c it’s true…they did target him.
    2. From the franchisee standpoint, this is great PR for those in the D.C. area. However, Cleveland and surrounding franchisees likely did not fair so well . While this will not have a drastic impact in the long run, I would expect that, despite 23-cent pizza day and the donation (typical PR moves), Cleveland franchisees and those in other markets will feel a light blow b/c of the actions of a franchisee in a different market. That really bites (no PUN intended).
    3. I know that using the corporate logo has its long-term benefits, but for the sake of legal/marketing issues, why not leave it out? Keep the colors and wording the same, even put the name/location of your local store on it as well. You’re still having fun, just keeping all the focus on you.

  • Joel Libava

    A friend of mine just sent me this email:
    “I wonder if it is in their right to make the franchisee pay the $10,000 charity donation plus the loss each Cleveland franchisee takes on these 23-cent pizzas on Thursday. I’ve got to believe that Corporate is picking up the tab on this one for the damage control.”
    Joel Libava

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