with apologies for the existentialist pun
The Advertising Standards Complaints Board has decided that Hell Pizza's distribution of condoms to the masses amounted to gross moral turpitude. The several groups who clamoured to be the most outraged about this campaign are delighted, of course, although Family First has announced that it will not be withdrawing its fatwa against Hell until an apology is received.
This is not the first time that Hell has been hauled before the Board. Concerned citizens have been complaining since the company was established. So, for your reading pleasure, I present excerpts from the Board's decisions.
Complaint: The Hell Pizza advertisement, which was included in a Best Buys mail box catalogue, was headed: WHO SAID HELL IS ONLY FOR THE WICKED?
Below was an image of the reverse side of a 50 cent coin showing the head of Queen Elizabeth II with devil horns and fangs drawn on it.
Text below said:
Now there’s a Hell for everyone … Hell Pizza would like to thank customers whose lust for fine pizza has created an evil empire of 50 stores. And to show our appreciation, if you come in and tell us to ‘go to Hell’- you’ll get 50c off every item purchased; pizzas, chips, drinks – everything, with no limit.
A message at the foot of the advertisement said: 666% MADE, OWNED AND OPERATED IN AOTEAROA
0800 666 111 hell.co.nz
Complainant, C. Aston-Grieve, said:
“I write to inform you that I find the enclosed advertisement for Hell Pizza offensive.
Firstly, it denigrates the personage of Queen Elizabeth the Second, a well respected monarch. Secondly, it defaces the leader of the Anglican Church with a devil caricature. Thirdly, rewarding people with a price reduction for saying ‘go to Hell’ sends an improper message to youth culture. Fourth, as a Christian the number 666 is also offensive.
The advertisement gave an 0800 number which I rang. A shop assistant answered, who assured me she would get head office to ring me. I heard nothing, so on 24th January I rang best Buys whose brochure it was advertised in, I expressed my concern. They emailed Hell Pizza. I heard nothing. I rang again 7/2/06 to Best Buys who had heard nothing. Hence I write to you.
I would appreciate a prompt response.”
Complainant, M. Ransley, said:
“I’m sending you this cutting which came in my box today. I find this way of advertising very poor taste, my house-hold are shocked to think that anyone would dare deface our queen this way. I have been told that lots of young ones frequent this place, what is it doing to respect and loyalty, has it gone forever. I’m 78 years old and have never seen this sort of advertising before.Please help if you can, it would be nice to see the Queen’s head clear and not disfigured. In some country’s it could be treason.”
Complainant, C. Lotriet, said: ““Hell" is a pizza business that in its slogans and advertisements refers to hell, which is fine because some one stated that hell is the place that every one talks about but nobody wants to go to. They seem to have branches in different places in New Zealand including Browns Bay where I live. I have written to them about their advertisements, not this particular one, with no response. In Auckland they have a billboard in Fanshaw Street at Farmer's car park with these words: How do you know He is listening, at least I deliver. It suggests that He may not be listening (or may be deaf) to your prayers and this is contrary to the Bible. God answers every prayer although some may be negative or delayed. It further suggests that this business is better than God because they deliver and God not. This advertisement in a Muslim country would lead to wholesale destruction and boycotts. It offends against the beliefs of all religions because of their faith in a god and the belief that he hears and answers prayers. Because Christians are peace living we do not react like that but we are very, very deeply offended by the suggestion contained in this advertisement. It is regarded as an insult against the Godhead and clearly directed at Him because of the use of a capital letter in "He". I am convinced that if it is brought to the attention of local Muslims it may release a reaction that will be damaging to this business and other innocents who may be caught in the crossfire. Perhaps it would be a good thing if it is brought to their attention. I await your decision before this is considered. I shall appreciate it if steps would be taken against them to force them to remove this insensitive and infuriating advertisement.”
Complaint: One of the Hell Pizza advertisements on Radio Sport contained a woman saying the following: “Honey, I’ve been sleeping with your brother – and your mother. … Why don’t we get some dinner in and talk it through? … I’ll get some Hell Pizza.”
In another, where they were intending to have pizza for breakfast, several people appeared to have spent the night in the same bed.
Complainant, B. Carmine, said the advertisements were “offensive, containing explicit sexual references that mock serious relationships and promote adultery”.
Complaint: The Hell Pizza website advertisements contained a number of images including a demon and fire, and statements including “Deliverance”, “Can you be saved?” and “Putting the vice in service.”
Complainant, S. Tyrrell, South City Baptist Church Tauranga, said: “…We feel that the whole concept is anti family values and makes fun and diminishes the seriousness of the bible teaching on hell…”
Complaint: The Flyer advertisement distributed to letter boxes was headed up:
KIDS ARE EVIL
Beneath this was a cartoon image of a red ‘child-like’ devil character holding a sling-shot with pizza slices and pizza sauce splattered on and around him.
The Complainant C. Windsor said:
“Yesterday 12 September I received in my mail box a very upsetting advertisement for Hell Pizza, which I hereby enclose.
I don’t think I have seen such a blatantly offensive advertisement ever.
As a country are we not trying to make people aware that children are precious and to have it printed on an advertisement that quote KIDS ARE EVIL is very distressing to me. Haven’t we had enough of our children being mistreated and killed and to refer to them as EVIL is disgusting. …”
Duplicate Complainants shared similar views and also expressed concern at the promotion of a negative message about children and objected to the caricature that featured in the advertisement.
This complaint received a response from Hell's agency, Cinderella, which read in part:
Well, bugger me. I believe that prevailing community standards are such that this campaign has not caused serious or widespread offence. – unless you happen to be a member of the religious loony fringe, or have undergone a total humour bypass. Thankfully, I am reasonably certain that ‘prevailing community standards’ are not yet being set by this small group.-otherwise we most certainly wouldn’t be saying bugger on tellie, ever.
Not surprisingly, the complaint was upheld
You can read these and many more on the Advertising Standards Authority's database.