LOUISVILLE, KY. – Still struggling to regain momentum following a very public spat with its previous owner, John Schnatter, Papa John’s International Inc. announced an investment of $80 million in marketing and brand initiatives aimed at getting the brand back on track.

Under the agreement, Papa John’s will make significant contributions to the company’s National Marketing Fund to amplify the brand’s message with the help of its new brand ambassador, Shaquille O’Neal. Mr. O’Neal, a former player in the National Basketball Association, joined the Papa John’s board of directors as brand ambassador in March. He also will be an investor in nine Papa John’s restaurants in the Atlanta area.

Papa John’s will lower royalties and provide royalty-based service incentives and targeted relief to assist its domestic franchisees.

“The strength of our brand and of our franchisees are both critical to Papa John’s long-term success,” said Steve M. Ritchie, president and chief executive officer of Papa John’s. “We’re pleased to announce that Papa John’s will make a significant investment in the exciting future of our brand. This is an important shared moment for Papa John’s and our committed franchisee base.”

The investment is expected in the third quarter of fiscal 2019 and has the support of the company’s elected Franchise Advisory Council, the company said, adding that the financial assistance program enhances the partnership between Papa John’s and franchisees by delivering crucial investment in the brand while providing franchisees with certainty on royalty relief.