Crosspost from the faceborg: Papa John’s culture problem(s)

An article on RestaurantDive.com asked “Can a chief people officer change Papa John’s culture?” and this was my off the cuff response/rant, originally posted on the faceborg:

 

Well I mean, one *could,* but this one probably won’t.

Is it just me, or does it seem like a giant corporation who’ll be spending tens of millions on “brand recovery” because of the aggregious douchecanoeing of it’s racist, sexist, murdered-wildlife-humping ousted founder *might not* be looking in the right place for genuine, meaningful culture shift by bringing on a petroleum company executive to spearhead the change?
Petroleum companies are great at slapping up wafer-thin veneers of happyshiny bullshit that a blind mole rat can see through in a split second, but that’s not what actual cultural shift requires these days.
Fake = fucked, regardless of how many zeros are in the initiative’s budget, or how shiny the short term boost a bunch of media coverage and interruptive ad campaigns give you.
I feel bad for all the small business owners with franchises, whose livelihoods are being negatively impacted by a bunch of tone deaf old white rich dudes. Oh hey… there’s a theme.
Aaaanyhoo. It’s maybe not the worst thing on earth for a company peddling such unhealthy stuff in such wasteful ways to continue… inviting itself out of existence, I guess.
If I were a jillionaire in the “food space” I’d be leveraging the major shifts in the industry and partnering with newly-IPO’d but insufficiently undifferentiated brands like Beyond Meat along with platforms that enable efficient local sourcing to set up supply chains with regenerative farmers growing heirloom varieties of grains, and cauliflower, nuts, etc.
While also working with a bunch of innovative chefs to create seasonal menus using unique, healthy, and genuinely scrumptious menus with instagram-level visual appeal.
I’d work with the best designers to create regionally-variable interiors with third-placeness as a top priority, plus highly visible but aesthetically pleasant composting systems and some kind of optional rooftop farming situation where in addition to green space and out-of-arms-reach pollinator support, people could pick garnishes like basil and parsley for their pizzas and then dine in a garden atmosphere.
Maybe with performance space for local musicians who actually got paid (and fed.) The drink menu, while not overwhelming in variety, would span from kombucha to coke, and bridge-bonding elements would be worked into every touchpoint possible.
In addition to the usual tip options (for employees all paid a living wage) I’d build into the checkout process contribution options for local organizations, and meaningful portions of proceeds would go to support community land trusts that help shift gentrification situations towards actively regenerative community instead.
I’d take the concepts of “better ingredients, better pizza” and have talented writers apply it to the better social and ecological “ingredients”/better world concept.
I’d work with super fabulous immersive experience artists to bring experiential elements to the space in a way that supported variable engagement, so there was enchantment and uberwhimsy, but people wouldn’t experience non-consensual sensory overload.
And I wouldn’t be a racist, sexist, endangered-wildlife-murdering garbage human. That impacts the culture way beyond what anything short of radical restructuring around real purpose can do.
Anyhoo! That’s just what I would do if I were a jillionaire in the food space. But I’m not, as evidenced by the fact that there aren’t already super delicious, aggressively healthy, economically and ecologically regenerative fast casual drive throughs chains of all kinds replacing fast food joints across the nation.
It’s not even really on “the list,” because it or similar will evolve organically as a result of successfully accelerating the shift towards a vibrant and regenerative society.
Aaaanyhoo. Good luck with your oil executive leading a change initiative, papa Johns, there’s every possibility that throwing tens of millions of dollars into the bonfire without actually having any purpose will keep you in business a few more years.

(Franchisees, I’d start looking at what other options are available to you.)

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