Papa John's is rolling out its first 60-second TV commercial, using the extended messaging time to drive home its long-held commitment to better ingredients. Missing are the usual jocks like Peyton Manning standing alongside founder John Schnatter. The new campaign, from Grey, New York, attempts to stand out from other fast food competitors by showing Schnatter's 1984 beginnings. He claims better ingredients were in the pizza he made in the broom closet of the tavern owned by his father.
Panera, Chipotle, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and McDonald's have all been cleaning up their offerings in a bid to appeal to more discerning customers. While Papa John's has always used "better ingredients, better pizza" in its advertising, the chain hasn't focused on that message so directly before. Schnatter first started improving his pizza ingredients in 1996 after visiting a Kansas factory, where he didn't like how the sausage was made.
"Papa John's has remained committed to quality, using better ingredients long before it became an industry trend," Schnatter said in a statement.
Since then, he's removed fillers from meat toppings, upgraded pizza dough and cheese and more recently removed MSG from ranch dressing and trans fat from garlic sauce. This year and next, the company will eliminate 14 ingredients like artificial colors, preservatives and corn syrup from sauces and replace them with natural options. Papa John's said that upgrade will cost the company $100 million annually.
In addition to the TV spot, which debuted yesterday, Papa John's will use 15-second video clips on the company's website. Schnatter says he has always tried to reach consumers directly: When he started his business he sent letters to his competitors' consumers asking them to try his "better" pizzas. More recently, he took out to open-letter ads in USA Today addressing Papa John's products and parents' concerns about the foods they serve to their families. The company is now inviting food bloggers to tour its headquarters and see how its pizzas are made.