Fallon makes rapid exit from Papa John’s in wake of Laundry Service $6m mystery

Client/agency relationships in adland are getting pretty messy and the Papa John’s saga in the US, where departed founder and CEO John Schnatter has accused Wasserman-owned full service agency Laundry Service of trying to extort six million dollars from the company, is an unfolding example.

Schnatter (below) left (he says he resigned) after using the “N-word,’ ‘nigger presumably, in a media call. He said he was referring specifically to remarks allegedly made by KFC’s Colonel Sanders himself.

Quite where the $6m came from we don’t yet know but it’s presumably to do with payments for media. Laundry Service denies the allegation but has yet to make a full statement, nearly a week after Schnatter’s accusation aired. Laundry Service, which until recently was reckoned to be a go-go member of a new breed of US agencies, split with founder and CEO Jason Stein recently and is in the midst of a wave of redundancies.

Now Papa John’s new agency Publicis Groupe-owned Fallon has split with the pizza chain just a month after being appointed.

Fallon says: “In mid-June, Fallon was retained by Papa John’s International to create work for the brand. The agency was unaware of the incident with its previous agency and learned about it with the rest of the world. During our short time with Papa John’s, Fallon produced limited product-focused advertising that has yet to air. The agency has decided not to pursue additional business with Papa John’s.”

Papa John’s says: “Fallon has a talented team and we wish them the best.” Which is sporting of them in the circumstances.

What awaits Papa John’s (presumably named after founder Schnatter) we’ll have to wait and see. A new name presumably at the very least. A full statement is required from Laundry Service.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.
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