- NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal is joining Papa John's as a member of the board, according to a press release.
- As part of this partnership, O'Neal will invest in nine Papa John's restaurants in Atlanta and enter into a marketing agreement as an ambassador for the brand.
- O'Neal has experience as an investor, restaurant and franchise owner. He owns a Krispy Kreme Doughnuts in Atlanta and previously owned 27 Five Guys franchises. He is also the founder and owner of fast casual fried chicken restaurant Big Chicken in Las Vegas and Shaquille's, a fine dining establishment in Los Angeles.
After a tumultuous year following the downfall of founder John Schnatter, Papa John's has been seeking a turnaround and a new image that could lure back some of its loyal customers. The addition of O'Neal to the board and two recently added directors also could mean that Schnatter will officially resign from the board, paving the way for a new crop of leadership.
So far the new image it has been creating at the board level is one of diversity: O'Neal will become the board's first African American director, according to CNBC. The company also brought on a fourth female board member last week with the addition of Jocelyn Mangan, making it one of a handful of restaurant companies, including Starbucks, with four female board members.
The national pizza chain is also looking to improve its image via an upcoming marketing campaign with star athletes and social media influencers. O'Neal, who has appeared in commercials for prominent companies such as JC Penney, Icy Hot, Gold Bond and The General Insurance, is one of the first partnerships to be officially announced.
Considering O'Neal's acumen as a businessman, who has successfully invested millions into new companies and ventures, his branding could create more positive brand perception for Papa John's, which is now led by a diverse board on the up-and-up.