Sometimes the world makes no sense. This fact is multiplied when you talk about the internet world.
Take this video from the well known pizza making chain Papa John’s. It was first posted to YouTube in 2010, and in it, the company announced an updated website. Additionally, it almost appears to be announcing online ordering as a new capability.
For some, this may seem about right. 2010 was five years ago — ancient by internet standards where trends are introduced and then killed off within hours — and perhaps our memory would persuade us to believe online ordering hadn’t hit its stride yet.
But this actually isn’t true.
In 2010, online ordering was more than just a cool idea. Seamless had been around for more than 10 years and was raising a $US50 million round. And its competitor at the time — GrubHub — had more than $US12 million in venture funding was available in more than 12 US cities. As for pizza chains, Domino’s first began doing deliveries from its website in 1999, and Pizza Hut was way ahead of the time, offering online since 1994.
But let’s go into the specifics of this video to see why this video is so gosh-darned odd.
When John walks into his house (dubbed “Papa’s House”) his foyer has what appears to be a large metal dragon prominently displayed on a pedestal.
Additionally, our first impression of Papa’s House — which is likely the real home of John, though a representative from Papa John’s was unavailable for comment to confirm — is that it’s a very regal mansion with Versailles-esque adornment.
The hallway has a huge statue. It appears to be either a dragon or an eagle.
John walks into his moment to find his son, Beau, sitting at his desk, and breaks the fourth wall as he introduces his son to the viewers. And Beau responds by lifting his arms and saying, “Beau in the house.”
And then we get to take a look at John’s office. It’s big and has the accoutrements of a presidential office — wooden battle horse to boot — along with hotel-like window drapery and an uncomfortable-looking oval bench.
This is the kind of office I could see an aristocrat calling other aristocrats in, but is definitely an impressive one for a pizza company’s CEO.
The video concludes with John and Beau ordering a few pizzas and the food arriving shortly thereafter.
Here is the meat of the video; Beau is teaching his father how to use the new website to order a pizza.
We see the online interface, Beau requesting certain toppings, and John gazing over Beau’s shoulder learning how to use the internet to order his own pizzas.
Here we see even Beau mystified that his father doesn’t know how to use the internet:
The delivery boy comes, looks awkwardly into the camera, and chats with John.
Despite this entire video obviously being staged, this scene plays like a low-budget reality TV show. Stilted dialogue based on the fact that you know a camera is in the room; Awkward gestures that could have been fixed with only one more take.
There’s a final moment with the delivery boy where John extends his hand for a firm handshake. The delivery boy has a bag in his right hand and awkwardly switches the bag to his other hand when he realises what’s going on. But it’s too late and we witness more than a few seconds of weird shuffling. Surely it would have only taken a few more minutes to take out this bizarre miscommunication.
So what’s going on? This video, first published in October 2010, is hoping to teach its viewers how to order online, right?
Well, not quite. Some digging turned up this press release, announcing the redesigned website along with this video. It explains that this video is not announcing online ordering as a new feature, it’s simply documenting the first time Papa John ever ordered online.
The press release reads:
“When I started Papa John’s 26 years ago, I never dreamed customers would one day be ordering pizza by computer,” [Papa John] Schnatter said. “Now it looks like online and mobile web ordering will surpass phone ordering, and likely in the not too distant future. With the launch of this new site, I decided that it was time to try it for myself, but I made sure I had an Internet expert on-hand: my son Beau. It was easy.”
So this video is pretty much a relic of internet ignorance. It documents the man learning how to use a feature, which has reportedly been around since 2001, from his young son.
It’s at once piece of education, a commercial, and an inside joke.
Despite how bizarre it has, the video has lived in relative obscurity for the last few years. It has been posted on Reddit a few times, and Redditors had more than a few more comments about certain portions. Although, one Redditor did write, “I work at Papa Johns, if you think this is cringe-worthy. You should see our training videos.” But despite these slight rumblings, this YouTube video has been a true hidden gem.
And it’s kind of fitting. In the way this video portrays Papa John’s complete confusion about the world wide web, it also fashions itself a part of a well-known online weird internet subculture.
We contacted Papa John’s to learn more about the making of this video and have yet to hear back. But, please, if you see this Papa John’s — we really want to know this history behind this.
You can watch the video below.
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