Culture

Marketing Maven Bozoma Saint John Defends Working With Papa John's Pizza: 'I'm Not Going To Save Anybody'

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 21: Bozoma Saint John attends the BET Her Awards presented by Bumble at the Conga Room on June 21, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Bumble)
Paula Rogo
Aug, 21, 2018 4:04 PM UTC

Bozoma Saint John took to her social media this weekend to push back on negative feedback about her decision to help Papa John’s Pizza overcome its recent public relations missteps.

The beleaguered pizzeria hired the Endeavor chief marketing officer to revive the brand after a year of terrible press.

But after what Saint John says are “truly outrageous headlines and clickbait-type of dialogue and posts about my work,” she shared a number of Instagram videos this weekend talking about her career mission in working with companies in crises.

“Some of the headlines I’ve seen lately say things like I am going to go save Papa John’s…that’s crazy,” she said. “I’m not going to save anybody; I don’t even know how to do that. And by the way, the only Savior I recognize is Jesus Christ.”

Papa John’s Pizza ran into issues earlier this year when CEO John Schnatter, a Trump supporter,  blamed Papa John’s declining revenue on the NFL’s handling of player protests. He was later forced to step down this summer after he reportedly said the n-word during a conference call.

Saint John explained that her job is to turn corporate crises, like the one with Papa John’s, into opportunities. And she sees her two decades of experience as a way to impact cultural and corporate activism.

“Corporate activism is about helping to change the culture. Barack Obama has one of the best quotes I read lately, which is that a crisis is a terrible thing to waste,” she said. “I agree we have to take these corporate crisis moments and change the culture.”

She added: “None of us are going anywhere, but we need to make our environments better. We need to make them richer, we need to make them healthier for us, so, therefore we need to take these crisis moments and change these environments and that’s what I am trying to do.”

The 41-year-old executive emphasized that her work with Papa John’s “is not a superficial re-branding effort” in which a Black face has been brought front and center to “clean up the mess.”

“But I have to use my voice as a black woman who has a seat at the table at an important moment of time in corporate to change the environment to the betterment of us. That’s what I am trying to do, by any means necessary,” she concluded.

Saint John accepted the role at Papa John’s after leaving Uber, who hired her in in the midst of their own struggles, which included a number of incidents involving sexual harassment within the company and their handling of drivers.

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