“Besides great-tasting pizza, we’ve got somethin’ else that those other wiseguys don’t. The Godfather. Not only does The Godfather make sure our pizzas are made just the way you like ’em, but he also adds an element of fun that the whole mob can enjoy.” – Godfathers Pizza
Godfathers Pizza is a large restaurant chain owned by Pillsbury and has over 600 locations in 39 states throughout the US. The company’s marketing campaign has remained largely unchanged since it’s founding in the 1970s, basing much of it’s image on the popular book-turned-film The Godfather (1972). From using the borrowed slogan, “A Pizza You Can’t Refuse”, to employing a knock off Don Corleone type actor full time for advertisements, to using the vernacular of a stereotypical New York mob guy throughout the website, I would say that Godfathers is laying it on a little thick. If you are unfamiliar with the famous line, take a quick look.
Now look at a Godfather’s ad from the 1980’s.
How cheesy can you get? (No pun intended).
Reviewing Godfather’s Pizza’s commercials and website had me thinking about ethics in marketing. The American Marketing Association has this to say about respect in their statement of ethics on their website.
Respect – to acknowledge the basic human dignity of all stakeholders. To this end, we will:
- Value individual differences and avoid stereotyping customers or depicting demographic groups (e.g., gender, race, sexual orientation) in a negative or dehumanizing way.
- Make every effort to understand and respectfully treat buyers, suppliers, intermediaries and distributors from all cultures.
- Acknowledge the contributions of others, such as consultants, employees and coworkers, to marketing endeavors.
In an Op-Ed piece published on the New York Times in 2011, criticizing former Presidential candidate Herman Cain (previous CEO of Godfather’s Pizza), John Mariani talks about the ethnic stereotyping of Godfather’s Pizza. He wrote, “Perhaps because Italian-Americans have generally integrated into society at large, it has become acceptable to mock them. Thus we have the “goombahs” of “The Sopranos” and the “guidos” of “Jersey Shore.”“ Mariani goes on to say that “other assimilated immigrant groups have been spared such mockery.”
I have to agree with Mariani on this one. Although Godfather Pizza’s long standing campaign seems to be effective, I think that it is in bad taste, escalating a stereotype on Italian Americans that should remain in the past. It seems to me that in America today it is okay to mock certain ethnic groups, but others are protected, especially from such blatant examples of ethnic stereotyping like Godfather’s Pizza.
What do you guys think? Is Godfather’s Pizza practicing good ethics in their marketing and advertising?