For the last few months, American TV stations have been bombarded with ads for Papa John's, the low-tier pizza empire owned and operated by John Schnatter. As Mr. Schnatter and Peyton Manning discuss massive free pizza giveaways (while the business's employees suffer) and both men try their darnedest to seem like normal Americans (with varying results), viewers cannot be criticized for wondering why they can't be blessed with more tolerable ads. Isn't Papa John's capable of better commercials?
The answer, apparently, is yes. Unfortunately, we have to go to Russia to find them. In this spot for Papa John's — the logo should be familiar even if Cyrillic letters aren't — former NBA players and current CSKA Moscow ballers Sonny Weems and Nenad Krstic do their best to get Muscovites to eat the most barely adequate fare America has to offer.
The scene is perfectly normal, as our most foreign ads. Weems sits in a hot tub with a beautiful Russian woman doing her best to teach him the language. He struggles, however, and Krstic walks up to take advantage. He then gets into the hot tub in full uniform (including a goofy hat that I'm pretty sure Russian basketball players don't wear on the court) and acts like the coolest guy at the party. Of course, he then takes a few bites of Papa John's, which would seem to undermine the whole plan.
Oh, and to top it off, Papa himself appears at the end to show Russia what American business is all about. Even halfway across the world, there is no escape from John Schnatter.