Papa John and Peyton Manning: America’s Favorite Bromance

Papa John’s is teaming up with Peyton Manning yet again, resurrecting America’s favorite advertising bromance.

Papa John and Peyton Manning just can’t stay away from each other. The restaurateur and the quarterback are chumming it up in the kitchen again, just like they do every year. This year, the ad is not remotely funny, as the only ‘joke’ revolves around Peyton misunderstanding what the word ‘superstition’ means. If there’s anyone out there who gets a laugh from this ad, that is a person I hope to never meet.

The brand is also pushing a prominent social media presence for the 2014 NFL season. Papa John’s will encourage fans to share their pizza and/or football-related experiences, in exchange for prizes and discounts. Seeing as this campaign gave away free pizzas for the last couple years – and all you had to do was sign up online – I’m not sure I see people putting any effort into earning a coupon.

Therein lies the major rub with this year’s iteration of the Papa John/Peyton Manning campaign. In previous years, it didn’t really even matter if you liked the commercials. Free pizza is free pizza. This year, the ‘deal’ they’re pushing is a large pizza for $10. Is that even a discount? I ask that as an entirely serious question. I saw an ad yesterday for Dominos that promoted a $5.99 medium pizza…and that’s the everyday price.

I know Papa John’s always claims to have better ingredients and better pizza, but are they really above the Dominos and Pizza Huts of the world, in the eyes of the consumer? I know I just lump them all together into the “fast-food pizza” category. When one company’s ‘discount offer’ is roughly equivalent to the competition’s normal pricing, that’s a problem.

Great advertising can certainly combat the handicap of being outpriced by your competitors, but great advertising this is not. This spot is so tame that ‘vanilla’ might be too exciting a term for it, and the promotion doesn’t feel like a discount. That’s not a winning combination.

Howard Davidson Arlington Massachusetts