A Pizza You Can’t Refuse

Godfathers Pizza
“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?

NP 3/12

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3 Comments

Filed under Ethics, NP

3 responses to “A Pizza You Can’t Refuse

  1. Miranda

    As an Italian-American, I am EXTREMELY offended. This is stereo-typing at its finest….Okay, so maybe my Grandfather was in the mafia, but it’s not something I’m proud of or condone. He did terrible things and I don’t think that the mafia should be idolized or shed in a positive light in order to sell pizza. Enough people already use slanderous terms such as Guido and Guinea for Italians, we don’t need any more negative associations. If this was a commercial for fried chicken and they used an Aunt Jemima figure, I’m sure that people would be outraged. Thanks Domenica for putting this out there!

  2. Gina

    Great points about stereotyping certain cultures and not others. Godfather’s Pizza was obviously disregarding The American Association’s ethics statement. Pretty interesting what people come up with to sell their product. This is one reason I do not have cable television!

  3. Thanks Miranda and Gina for your thoughtful comments–I am glad I am not the only one slightly offended by these advertisements. I used to drive by Godfather’s Pizza and think “what a cute idea”, but after thinking about it, I realized that my heritage was being mocked.

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