Sunday, October 13, 2013

Papa John's, Applebee's & Denny's Brand Names Plummet

The rash of fast-food strikes across the nation may not have only raised public awareness of corporate greed, income inequality and stagnant wages for the past 35 years --- but the strikes may have also affected some bottom-lines for many of these corporate entities, those who have been so dead-set against fair wages and healthcare benefits for their employees.

Pizza chain Papa John's told shareholders that President Obama's health care law will cost consumers more on their pizza. CEO and founder John Schnatter (a former Mitt Romney supporter and fundraiser) said Obamacare (set to go into effect in 2014) will result in higher costs for the company --- which he vowed to pass onto consumers:

"Our best estimate is that the Obamacare will cost 11 to 14 cents per pizza...If Obamacare is in fact not repealed, we will find tactics to shallow out any Obamacare costs and core strategies to pass that cost onto consumers in order to protect our shareholders best interests."

John Schnatter is not the first pizza magnate to criticize healthcare reform. In 1993 the future presidential candidate Herman Cain charged that Bill Clinton's proposed healthcare law would cost his company Godfather's Pizza money and jobs.

The corporate giant Pillsbury bought out the original Godfather's Pizza in 1983 and in 1986 named Herman Cain the CEO and President of the Godfather's brand. Herman Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan in 2012 would have reduced capital gains taxes on income earned on stocks to 9% and lowered Godfather's (Pillsbury's) corporate tax rate from 35%  to 9% --- while at the same, refusing to raise the federal minimum wage.

  • From Google Finance for Godfather's Pizza Inc. -- "Maybe the head of this family is named Don Pizzeria. Godfather's Pizza operates a leading quick-service restaurant chain with about 620 family-oriented pizza joints spread around the US. The parlors offer a crew of pizzas and a mob of topping choices...A handful of the restaurants are company-owned while the rest are franchised. Founded by Nebraska native Willy Theisen in 1973, the business is owned by a group led by CEO Ron Gartlan."

Papa John's CEO later published an op-ed piece where he sought to convince the public that he never really intended to cut back back on worker's hours, but had simply been "speculating" on what he "might" do in response to Obamacare. But it seems his lame response wasn't enough.

According to YouGov BrandIndex, a leading marketing survey that measures brand perception in the marketplace (called “Buzz”), Papa John’s now has a good reason for concern as the pizza chain’s brand identity has plummeted from a high on election day last year, to a remarkably low score among adults who have eaten at causal dining restaurants during the past month. Papa John's is currently in a near 3-way tie with Applebee's and Denny's.

Fast food server Applebee’s also once possessed a healthy "Buzz" score before Zane Terkel, the CEO of one of the company’s largest franchisees, appeared on Fox News to complain about healthcare reform and to announce that he would not be building more restaurants or hiring any more workers in response to his objections to Obamacare.

Darden Restaurants (owner of Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse) has lowered its profit projections for the quarter ending November 25th, acknowledging that its bad numbers are the result of poorly performing promotions, Superstorm Sandy and "the poor publicity it engendered by its decision to test out a plan to cut back on healthcare costs by putting more workers on part-time schedules." (Darden Restaurants is already being sued for back wages by current and former employees.)

Too many people in the lower income group (about half the US population) depend on Walmart's low prices, so they can't boycott Walmart, who intends to cut back employee hours in the effort to push workers onto the Medicaid rolls, rather than take responsibility for their employees’ health care or wages.

Unlike what you hear on the Conservative media outlets, President Obama hasn’t deployed his brown shirts to confiscate private property and redistribute the CEO of Papa John's (or Darden's) wealth. Obama hasn’t choked out the private sector with big government regulations. In fact, corporate profits under President Obama are astronomically high. The average annual real corporate profit growth rate since President Obama took office is 77.9% --- making him the best president/crony capitalist for corporate profits since 1900. So what have all these greedy corporate CEOs been babbling about? (Other examples further below.)

The stock market a has more than doubled since Obama first took office; the multi-billionaires' tax rates are still lower than someone else earning $35,000 a year; and the CEOs' salaries and net worth are higher now than they've ever been before --- but still these multi-billionaires are whining and crying and singing the Blues --- and still they want to deny working Americans a living-wage and affordable healthcare.

But maybe the public has become more privy to these super-rich GOP supporters, and why many of their corporate brand names are now so scorned, and why the GOP approval ratings are now so low.

Other Anti-Obama Multi-Billionaires who did very well under Obama...

Timeshare tycoon David Siegel of Westgate Resorts hit headlines after sending a letter to colleagues recommending they vote for Mitt Romney or risk losing their jobs.

Casino multi-billionaire Steve Wynn (of Wynn Resorts) recently appeared on a Las Vegas political program, blasting the President for triggering “class warfare” and claiming Obama “doesn’t even understand how the economy works.”

Also on the Forbes 400 America's richest people list, Leon Cooperman is the subject of recent a New Yorker story and the “pope” of the anti-Obama movement among rich hedge fund mangers according to fellow fund managers. Cooperman took his criticism public last November with a highly publicized open letter, taking the President to task for anti-capitalist rhetoric.

The bitter Birther-in-chief Donald Trump has been characteristically vocal in his desire to see the President unseated. He often shares his anti-Obama sentiment with his 1.5 million Twitter followers. “I just had to fire someone,” he tweeted days after his disastrous first debate. “He didn’t have a clue — he reminded me of Obama.”

Back in 2010, Blackstone multi-billionaire Stephen Schwarzman found himself apologizing after making his own Nazi comparison in an interview with Newsweek. “It’s like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939,” he said of Obama’s plan to raise taxes on Wall Street types.

In a Forbes cover story earlier this year, the Las Vegas Sands casino magnate Sheldon Adelson (another multi-billionaire on the Forbes list) said he feared America's descent into socialism under Obama and vowed to spend $100 million or more unseating him.

The oil multi-billionaire Harold Simmons, described as Dallas' Most Evil Genius, is among the most outspoken of the Forbes 400 against the President. "Obama is the most dangerous American alive," he told the Wall Street Journal in a rare March interview, "because he would eliminate free enterprise in this country."

Neither Charles nor David Koch (the richest and most nefarious and notorious brothers in America) have made any secret of their antipathy towards Obama. Charles, however, was especially candid at a fundraising summit back in 2011, when he didn't realize he was being taped. Mother Jones obtained audio of Charles Koch appearing to compare Obama to Saddam Hussein.

In a rare interview with GQ magazine for a July story on income inequality, Public Storage billionaire and thoroughbred racing enthusiast B. Wayne Hughes sounded not unlike Steve Wynn. He described feeling victimized by Obama and Progressive Democrats, who wanted to slightly increase taxes on the rich --- such as taxing capitals gains as regular income --- or at the very least, at 30% under the Buffett Rule (and not 9% as proposed by Herman Cain). B. Wayne Hughes: "Politically, I'm on the enemy list. I've lived my whole life doing what I thought was right, and now I'm an enemy of the state." (That poor, poor man!)

Home Depot founder Ken Langone has never been shy in his criticism of the President. In one CNBC interview in 2011 the conservative donor described Obama as petulant and un-presidential. Ken Langone: "He's dividing us!" Also, in an interview on Fox News with Sean Hannity last year, the multi-billionaire Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus said that a second term for President Obama would bring “despair.” (Those poor, poor men!)

Amway co-founder Rich DeVos is a longtime conservative donor known to be on the invite list for Charles and David Koch's biannual summits of rich right-wingers discussing political strategy. Back in 2009 DeVos told an interviewer in his home state of Michigan: "[Obama] is a little scary to me."

Chicago Cubs owner Joe Ricketts was embroiled in a scandal when news broke that he was considering funding an ad campaign painting Obama as a "metro-sexual, black Abe Lincoln." He backed out of that arrangement but remained a financier of a documentary showing the President's purported "anti-colonial" views. In a 2010 university commencement speech, Ricketts' anti-Obama sentiment was already on display: "Our Republic is under assault from our government," he said.

Real estate and publishing tycoon Mort Zuckerman calls himself "a former Obama supporter." He wrote an op-ed endorsing the President in his own tabloid The Daily News in 2008. Since, he's expressed disappointment, telling the Wall Street Journal: "It's as if he [Obama] doesn't like people." In an op-ed in that same newspaper months earlier, he'd written: "I long for a triple-A president to run a triple-A country."

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