Just Because You Say It Doesn’t Make It So, Papa Gino’s

If you’re in marketing, you have to have some tolerance for BS. We’re in the business of hype, after all, and our job is to build things up and make people believe they can’t survive without whatever it is our client is trying to sell.

However, I have my standards. I don’t use the word “unique,” for instance, unless something actually is unique (rare). In general, I try to incorporate a bit of restraint whenever possible.

Which brings me to Papa Gino’s. If you’re from New England, you know Papa Gino’s, a staple of suburbs throughout our region. My family used to go to the one in Walpole, Mass., most Saturday nights. (And I was a huge fan of their baseball card discs, which apparently and inexplicably go for big bucks these days.)

Anyway, I’m not here to bury Papa Gino’s. If you’re a kid, Papa Gino’s cuisine is nothing short of awesome. But as you grow older and your tastes become more refined, you realize the pizza is between one quarter and halfway up the totem pole.

But here’s the thing: The Papa Gino’s radio ads, which play incessantly during Red Sox games, try to transform the brand into something it isn’t. They claim you haven’t lived until you try a Papa Gino’s pizza, that those poor saps who live outside of New England can never achieve the culinary bliss that is a mouthwatering pizza from Papa Gino’s. I think the phrase “the best pizza you’ll ever taste” gets tossed around at some point.

When I hear these ads, my first thought is, “Whoever their copywriter is must die a little bit inside each time he has to write something like that.”

My larger thought, though, is this: You gotta dial back the hyperbole, Papa Gino’s. Your pizza is okay. It’s cheap, and it gets the job done. It’s just right for a night out with the kiddies. But does it represent the final evolution of pizza, or anything close to it? No. And that’s fine. Just don’t imply otherwise in your commercials. You’re only raising expectations that will inevitably be shattered when the listener pays a visit.

Now when are you going to bring back those baseball card discs?

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