After more than three weeks of testimony, an eight-person jury found that Papa John's disputed slogan, "Better Ingredients. Better Pizza.'' was misleading. The jury also found, however, that Pizza Hut misled viewers via two TV spots claiming Papa John's uses stale dough. Those spots were not from Pizza Hut's national agency, BBDO Worldwide, New York, but rather a political advertising firm, according to an executive familiar with the spots. Fricks/Firestone, Atlanta, is the agency for Papa John's.
A Nov. 29 hearing is slated for jurors to determine if Pizza Hut should be awarded the $12.5 billion in damages it is seeking in the case, which was filed in August 1998. It will be up to Judge William Sanderson to decide whether to allow Papa John's, Louisville, Ky., to continue to use its disputed slogan, which has been used for some four years.
The spat started between the chains in 1997 when Papa John's took aim at Pizza Hut's tomato paste in TV spots. Then came another Papa John's commercial showing Pizza Hut founder Frank Carney in his new role as a Papa John's franchisee.
Neither marketer could be reached for comment at deadline.
Copyright November 1999, Crain Communications Inc.