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Misleading Papa Johns Ad
Here's another case of a misleading claim in an advertisement. This time from Papa Johns, who offers unlimited toppings, as long as you have a maximum of no more than five toppings. (posted by Nave_7 on flickr.)

Related posts:
Deceptive Ad (Dec 3, 2007)
Deceptive Sign (Sep 10, 2007)
Categories: Advertising
Posted by The Curator on Mon Dec 17, 2007
Perhaps this could be interpreted as an unlimited AMOUNT of each of as many as five toppings?

In that case, I want eight pounds of cheese on my pizza, please.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Mon Dec 17, 2007  at  04:09 AM
Ok, I've read that ad three times now and still can't figure out exactly what they're offering...
Posted by Nona  on  Mon Dec 17, 2007  at  07:42 AM
Nona, I'm guessing they're offering three pizzas for $21 with a maximum of 5 toppings per pizza. It's just that the wording is so damn convoluted it does make it hard to work it out.
Posted by Smerk  in  to mischief  on  Mon Dec 17, 2007  at  08:27 AM
I, too, think this ad is more confusing than deceptive. I had to read it several times slowly before I decided that Alex's interpretation is probably what they meant (three pizzas with up to five toppings on each pizza). I suspect it was written by somebody with almost no verbal communication ability, not a chiseler trying to defraud the public.
Posted by Big Gary  in  Italy, Texas  on  Mon Dec 17, 2007  at  05:43 PM
I like Papa John's pizza and I get their email advertisements. I don't remember this one, I haven't ordered in a while so haven't read the emails closely, but from my experience with the company (granted a franchise) I don't think this was deliberate. I think a committee was involved, one member of which was a lawyer. Someone had an inflated idea about the offer, just like a small dinner is "world famous" if someone thirty miles away knows about it.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Tue Dec 18, 2007  at  11:53 AM
Sounds like crap to me. They figure the maximum anyone who wants topping on their pizza is 5 which somehow translate to unlimited. Just like the unlimited internet access as long as you don't go over an excessive amount of data, or in this case more than 5 toppings. Atleast they printed what they really mean. Why are the advertiser allow to throw out words that have a very define meaning. Webster define Unlimited as Infinite, boundless.

On another similar topic. Lifetime Warranty. I heard almost everything comes with one. What does it really mean? Most product have a life cycle, can a company really warrant a product many years ago?
Posted by heyU  in  philly  on  Tue Dec 18, 2007  at  04:25 PM
For several decades any company can claim to be the best but cannot claim to be better. The FTC decided that most products are so similar in quality that the claim to be best is meaningless and that consumers know this. If, however, a company wants to claim to be better than its competition it has to be able to prove that claim beyond reasonable doubt. So is the "lifetime warranty" in the same catagory? Yes. The FTC decided that a "lifetime warranty" is good for the expected lifetime of the product. In other words, if the company decides that the product will last five years the lifetime warranty is good for that five years or the lifetime of the owner, whichever is less. And the lifetime of the owner for the purposes of the warranty ends when ownership is transfered.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Tue Dec 18, 2007  at  05:41 PM
I used to work in the pizza business, and it's actually a pretty standard claim. It is deliberately deceptive, insofar as they are well aware that "unlimited" invokes thoughts of vast quantities, which is exactly what it is supposed to do.

In truth, all they mean by "unlimited" in pizza ads is that you can choose any topping on the menu without restriction. If you call and ask why you can't have 6 toppings on an "unlimited" deal, this will be the boilerplate response the crew will have been prompted with.

On a side note, I would point out that there is a great deal of confusion among pizza buyers regarding laws of physics, principles of cooking, and pizza toppings. The more toppings you put on a pizza, the harder it is to cook. This is particularly true of thicker crusts, where it is very easy to load up a pie to a point where the center will never cook completely. This is why the more toppings you order, the fewer of each you get. It's not a diabolical plan to rip you off, it's protecting you from your own excess.
Posted by Ron  on  Fri Dec 21, 2007  at  09:53 AM
Some people seem to be so befuddled by the poorly worded ad they fail to see the actual problem:

"Unlimited" toppings that are limited to 5 toppings.

This is clearly, purposefully deceptive and is unquestionably fraud. Since the amount of sales using this fraudulent ad, I'm sure, exceeds $1,000 this is Grand Larceny and is punishable by death.

Death to Papa Johns!
Posted by Norma Stites  in  At my desk  on  Tue Feb 26, 2008  at  01:59 PM
Just to set everything strait. I am a mananger at papa johns and I have never limited the # of toppings to 5. I will put as many toppings as the computer will let which is like 8 or so. And just so you know they limit the # of toppings because the pizza's wont be cook all the way through after being so thick because of 50 toppings. But I really hope this dosent run you away from truley the best fast food pizza chain. And to tell you the truth I would be more mad at Domino's 30 min guarantee to you door cause at the bottom corner of the comercial its says that they cant hold that time to be true for safty reason....then why would they say it was a guarantee????. Thanks for reading dont let that coupon stop you from ordering from Papa Johns
Posted by Chris Kapteina  in  Chattanooga, Tn  on  Fri Feb 29, 2008  at  10:40 PM
Completely retarded.

"Unlimited Toppings" means between none and all of the available toppings.

If the company is going to advertise that, then they need to deliver it.

If they have 18 toppings, and someone wants "all of them", then they simply let the customer know the toppings will need to be spread thin so the dough will cook.

But no, let's be blatant morons, and have an ad that says:

"Hey UNLIMITED Toppings! But you can only have five! Hahahaha YAY!!! Hahahaha *hits the crack pipe again*"
Posted by Dude  in  Colorado  on  Sat Feb 07, 2009  at  10:21 PM
I think the basic problem with Papa John's is that they're cheap, despite the relatively high cost of the pizza, and the delivery charge.
They don't pay enough to keep quality management, and as a result, have to take what they can get for the salaries they pay.

They also don't want to spend the money to drug test. (Even those in management or delivery driver positions.)

Were they to do so, the majority of the problems with service, product quality, and delivery times & errors would very quickly solve themselves.

My son worked as a delivery driver at the Papa John's in Snellville GA for a few months, but quit when he realized that that particular location had become a haven for "druggies and petty criminals" as he put it.

He explained that "The manager and her cronies" seemed to spend more time "out back" behind the building, night and day, talking and smoking, than inside serving customers and making pizza.

When I asked him if the managers supervisor was aware of this, he said "How could he not be...!?, Isn't that his job!!"

Some of the stories he's told me about what goes on at that location, especially in the late evening
were hard to believe, until I went in (several times) to pick up in-store orders. Seeing is believing!

He has since taken a position elsewhere, so at least I won't have to worry about him getting involved with that kind of crowd.

Jimmy R
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Posted by James R  in  Lawrenceville, GA  on  Sat Apr 11, 2009  at  03:30 AM
Alright first off let me just say of course there will be drug users there. I promise you that you work with someone that uses some kind of drug regularly whether it is alcohol, marijuana, or prescriptions. That has absolutely nothing to do with where he worked it is just the way the world is right now. Now second what is wrong with petty criminals they did their time and now they have to suffer by being stuck in jobs that will never pay much more than minimum wage because they made ONE mistake in life. Past jail time and even drug use have nothing to do with if the person will be a good worker or not. I would rather have a drug user that gets work done than a lazy sober person who doesn't do anything. I personally know plenty of people that fall into both of those categories so it is unfair to judge people based on one characteristic. That would be like me saying we would have world piece if we killed all the black people because a friend of mine got jumped by one (anyone reading this calm down I don't feel that way at all I am just making a point). You can't judge an entire group of people based on one persons actions or even a small group like a local pizza shop.

Sir you live in a country where the majority of people smoke marijuana and support legalization. It is naive to think that you don't have to worry about him getting into that crowd just because he works somewhere else. It is all about the person not the environment I myself think it is rather sad that you don't trust your son enough to be around that crowd and not partake. I hope one day you really can trust your son.
Posted by foamy9210  on  Fri Aug 27, 2010  at  07:40 PM
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