Breakups are never easy, but they’re a fact of life. Not every relationship is perfect. Not every relationship can last forever. When you get dumped, it hurts. When you see your ex with someone else less than 24 hours later, it’s devastating. That’s what poor Papa John’s is finding out right now. As my good friend Mac pointed out Tuesday, the NFL has decided to part ways with Papa John’s as it’s official pizza sponsor. In a brutal move, the NFL announced a deal with Pizza Hut less than 24 hours after dropping Papa John’s. I bet Papa John hadn’t even gotten a chance to collect his toothbrush and phone charger from Roger Goodell’s apartment yet.
Now this may be an unpopular opinion, and I’m sure I’ll catch some heat for it, but I like Pizza Hut’s pizza. I don’t mean that I tolerate it and if it’s the only option then I’ll settle for it. I mean that I actually legitimately like it. I love the taste of their crust and the taste of their cheese. If that makes me a bad person, so sue me. I feel like it’s pretty universally accepted that Pizza Hut (along with its other big chain rivals) has bad pizza. But I’m okay with that. I fully admit, I like shitty pizza.
Part of my love for Pizza Hut may be from nostalgia. When Mac and I were kids our parents would take us to Pizza Hut once a week in the summer to hit up the lunch buffet. The goal was always to match your shoe size in number of pieces eaten (we’re talking double digits, folks), and we rarely came up short. I also loved going to Pizza Hut and playing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game, which quickly became my favorite NES game as well. I was a huge Ninja Turtles fan growing up. Come to think of it, that may be why I enjoy Pizza Hut so much, because that shit was full of subliminal advertising:
It’s possible I’ve just been brainwashed, but I don’t care. I’m fully on #TeamPizzaHut and if this deal brings in a significant amount of revenue for the pizza chain then they better bring back the lunch buffet to all of their restaurants. That shit was my jam back in the day.
This is a big deal for the NFL because they’re reportedly getting more money from Pizza Hut than they got from Papa John’s. I just hope they can keep up to par on the advertising. One way to fall out of favor with me quickly is to put out a bunch of unfunny commercials. Papa John’s had Peyton Manning on their side, who is a surefire first ballot hall-of-famer in the Advertising Hall of Fame. I don’t necessarily associate Pizza Hut with great commercials, which could be a problem. They’ll either need a great spokesperson, or better yet, a great mascot. Mascots can make all the difference in the advertising game. Little Caesars has Little Caesar, Dominos used to have the Noid (which they definitely need to bring back) and Papa John’s has Papa John. If Pizza Hut really wants to become top dog in the pizza game, they’re going to need to be on point with their advertising.
As for Papa John’s? They’re left picking up the pieces and asking themselves what went wrong. Breakups are hard, but eventually you’ll get over it. Once Papa John’s is ready to get back out there they’ll start looking for a rebound. I hear Vince McMahon has an up-and-coming professional football league that could probably use an official pizza sponsor, and that would be a great way to stick it to the ex.