Go For Greatness (But Don’t Really).
People like Rick and Allison, deservedly so, feel a certain amount of shame and self-contempt for being less than “great.” Less than the best they can be (or at least could have been). To alleviate that emotional suffering, such people will rationalize it away any way that they can. Pizza Hut knows this, and with this advertising campaign, has chosen to give them a way to do so. By conflating the decision to purchase Pizza Hut’s 3 Cheese Stuffed Pizza with the exceptionally good decision to speak one’s mind honestly, or to make one’s feelings known to a romantic interest, it lessens the pain people feel for other, poorer decisions (ie: to squander opportunities for self-improvement by goofing off at work or to get a meaningless tattoo on one’s back). It makes them feel as though their correct decisions are the only decisions that matter (ie: the only decisions that define who they are), and that somehow their incorrect ones have no effect on their lives (even though, ironically, if they didn’t then this advertising trick wouldn’t work).
This advertising trick works because people are not simply their good decisions or their bad decisions, but the sum total of the two. If someone is a mixture of both good and bad decisions, then doing something marginally good like not settling for “boring pizza” feels like a moral achievement. What these commercials do is flatter the philosophical premises of people who know themselves to be morally mixed, but who are convinced that that’s the best they could have ever been expected to be. People who think that it’s naive and silly to not compromise, so if you’re not going to, it’s best to not do so only about silly things like the type of crust you want on your pizza. That that’s about as “great” as it’s going to get in this life.
These commercials are a subtle, subliminal commiseration with those who hold the malevolent universe premise, with the hope that whenever such people acutely experience it again in the future (which they will, since it is a fundamental philosophical issue) they will be reminded of Pizza Hut.