Papa John's is readying a replacement for its "Better ingredients. Better pizza" ad slogan, which was deemed to be false and misleading by a federal jury.
Jack Trout, the Connecticut business consultant and author who wrote the contentious line, said the Louisville, Ky.-based pizza maker is looking at alternatives that contain essentially the same message.
"'Better ingredients. Better pizza' is really what they stand for," Trout said. "Adjustments will be made, and the same idea will live on."
The change could be as minor as adding "We think it's ..." or "We call it ..." in small type in front of the line.
Fricks/Firestone in Atlanta, Papa John's lead agency, declined to comment.
On Nov. 18, a federal jury found in favor of Dallas-based Pizza Hut in its suit against Papa John's for false and misleading advertising. The same jury found Pizza Hut guilty of similar practices for retaliatory ads. Pizza Hut is seeking damages of $12.5 million.
Some in the industry voiced concern that the rulings may set a precedent. "Our attorneys will be looking harder at that particular language," said Dennis McClain, co-founder of Temerlin McClain, Irving, Texas. "'Better' has always been a word that didn't fall exclusively into the domain of puffery."
TV networks may have to "look more closely at competitive claims" before airing ads, he suggested. "They were obviously clearing Papa John's work. What implication does that have for standards applied in the future?"
"Getting a jury and a court into headlines and claims is a giant Pandora's box," Trout said. "'The best pizza under one roof' is Pizza Hut's tagline ... and my view is that's worse than 'Better ingredients. Better pizza.'"
Debra Goldstein, a member of the legal affairs committee of 4A's and senior vice president and associate general counsel at Bates USA, called the case "relatively unusual" but not necessarily precedent-setting. K