In a 1988 television advertising campaign, Godfather's introduced America, to the Studney Twins — "One...an expressionless middle-aged white man, the other a black teenager in perpetual motion," as Advertising Age put it. These two announce themselves in what is apparently supposed to be African-American dialect — "We be da Studney Twins" — then go on to proclaim, "We have the exact same taste in everything: clothes, cars, women…" (wink, wink).
One of the signature menu items at Godfather's is the Hot Stuff Pizza. ("Like it hot?") Another is the Humble Pizza (but lest you get the wrong idea, "The Humble Pizza is anything but humble").
Advertising slogans used by Godfather's over the years have made it clear that the chain's eponymous godfather isn't a male who takes responsibility for an infant's spiritual upbringing, but an Italian family patriarch of the kind famously portrayed by Marlon Brando in a series of movies whose name we can't quite remember. For instance: "If you don't like anchovies, you'll be sleeping with the fishes"; “I got a pizza you can't refuse”; and the vaguely ominous "I know your neighborhood".
Some Italian-Americans apparently don't appreciate the tenor of Godfather's, er, family-oriented branding. Among the organizations that have criticized what they see as stereotypical depictions of the Italian-American community are Sons of Italian Americans, the Columbus Foundation, the National Italian American Foundation, and the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute. Restaurant critic John Mariani, whose ethnic background should be evident from his name, pointed out back in 2008 the irony in the fact that, "a former CEO of Godfather's Pizza was an African-American named Herman Cain…who I suspect would be outraged if a chain came out under the name…'Gangsta Soul Food.'"
Running this straightforward pizza chain is apparently good training for running our great nation. "When I went to Godfather’s Pizza in 1986," Herman Cain has said, "the company was supposed to go bankrupt. I had never made a pizza, but I learned. And the way we renewed Godfather’s Pizza as a company is the same approach I will use to renew America. And that is if you want to solve a problem, go to the source closest to the problem and ask the right questions."
At an Omaha Press Club event in 1991, Godfather's Pizza's then-chairman and CEO, Herman Cain, wearing a white robe and backed by a red-robed gospel chorus, sang "Imagine There's No Pizza" ("Imagine there's no pizza / I couldn't if I tried / Eating only tacos / Or Kentucky Fried"). It got him a standing ovation.