Offline Actions Can Cause Online Disasters: Papa John’s

If you haven’t heard, Papa John’s social media team had a busy weekend. A Twitter user tweeted a photo of her receipt, and on the receipt, a Papa John’s employee had referred to her with a derogatory name.

The picture spread quickly. In fact, there were 4,542 mentions of the Papa John’s Twitter handle (@PapaJohns) online on Saturday, the day the picture was tweeted. Compare that with around 50-80 mentions on an ordinary day. The Twitpic of the receipt has been viewed over 222,000 times and counting.

Mentions of @PapaJohns

Before the rise of social media, the customer probably would have called management and told a few friends. Obviously, Papa John’s reputation would have been tarnished to far fewer people. Social media, however, gave the customer the power to share what happened to her with people all over the country (and world!). I’m sure the customer had no idea how fast it would spread, but Twitter users were outraged by the discrimination that occurred at the Papa John’s store.

Papa John’s issued an apology, reached out to the customer and assured everyone that the employee had been terminated. Perhaps a good next step would be a video on the culture at Papa John’s and how racism and discrimination are not tolerated.

With 3,500 stores, I know how hard it is for them to make sure all employees follow policies and have just plain good sense, but unfortunately, this is reflecting on the Papa John’s brand as a whole, even though it was just one employee. Brands need to make sure all employees know the online consequences for their offline actions.


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