got a pass from New Zealand’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
Hell Pizza made headlines around Easter with their unique hot pentagram buns and according to this article, it wasn’t the first time their style of advertising raised a ruckus, apparently. Other ads they ran satirized local news reports and (as far as complainers were concerned) worse.
In 2009 a billboard carried the catch phrase “at least our brownie won’t eat your pet dog” — a reference to Tongan Paea Taufa being found roasting a pitbull terrier-cross in an umu at his Mangere home.
The advertisement was the most complained about ad for that year, with the ASA upholding 62 complaints about it.
The “brownie” ad did not meet a due sense of social responsibility, was distasteful and reasonably likely to cause serious or widespread offence, the ASA said.
In late 2008, Hell began a “$25 Hot as Hell” direct mail ad, which promised a Thai massage with one of its pizzas, if the offer was redeemed in Thailand on the day of purchase.
The ad showed a photo of a young Thai woman in high heels and a bikini, which 16 complainants said invoked prostitution and was a racial slur to Thais.
Their sense of humour appeals to me (who’d actually fly to Thailand on account of that ad?) but I can see why they’re seen to cross lines. Crossing lines on a bun to mock an Easter tradition, though? That’s what generated the most complaints to date: 179. Fortunately the ASA saw it their way and let the billboards stand.
The ASA noted positive views expressed by the public including St Matthews In The City.
“…we can only conclude that the campaign was in fact within ASA guidelines as to acceptable humour and satire allowable within a tolerant and open society such as New Zealand.”
Too bad the complainers weren’t also tolerant and open to joking around. Judge not lest ye be judged and all that. If their beliefs can’t stand up to a little mockery, perhaps their beliefs aren’t very solid in the first place?