Pizza Wars


In the fast and loose world of advertising, every product hawked is the best, or at least better than something else–not to mention new and improved. In this respect, at least, we customers aren't dumb: We know that this is a bragging game and that we shouldn't take every claim literally.

But apparently we aren't smart enough to figure that out about the slogan, "Better Ingredients. Better Pizza," used by the Louisville-based chain Papa John's. In January, a Dallas judge ordered Papa John's to stop using the slogan, and to pay Pizza Hut almost $500 million for the damage the ads had allegedly done.

The war began a few years ago, when Papa John's launched an ad campaign comparing its ingredients to what "other chains use," making particularly derisive references to dehydrated tomato paste. Pizza Hut responded with a "Stoppa the Poppa," campaign, which included such inspired silliness as putting Papa John's name on miniature punching bags and doormats. Finally, Pizza Hut sued its upstart rival for deceptive advertising tactics, arguing that Papa John's could not prove its pizza and ingredients were "better" than the Hut's.

Papa John's is appealing the ruling. In the meantime, it has apparently decided that it can play the legal game, too: It has asked the U.S. patent office to reject Pizza Hut's slogan, "Best Pizzas Under One Roof."