Hell Pizza Too Good for Some Evil Bastards

Hell Pizza‘s billboard campaign linking George Bush with the phrase, “evil bastards”, has finally been found to be offensive by New Zealand’s Advertising Standards Complaints Board. The offensive billboard in question was part of an advertising campaign in Auckland and Wellington in August 2005, featuring two billboards with the phrases, “Hell – Too Good For Some Bastards”, and “Even Hell Has Its Standards”, and the free phone number, 0800 666 111. A Hells Pizza billboard from Auckland- “Hell – Too Good For Some Evil Bastards”.

Hell - Too Good For Some Evil Bastards - billboard featuring George Bush


Complaints

The Hell Pizza George Bush campaign was first launched in August 2005 with seven billboards in Auckland and Wellington. After many complaints the Outdoor Advertising New Zealand and UMC Advertising took the billboards down. Because of the company’s self-regulatory action the campaign was not considered by the Advertising Standards Complaints Board at that time.

Matthew Blomfield, Managing Director of Hell Pizza’s advertising agency Cinderella, said in 2005 that they expected to cause a bit of a stir. He said that the billboards were meant to provoke discussion and be a little edgy, instead of bland, boring advertising.

Hell Pizza decided to test the waters again by erecting the billboard in 2006. The public response was immediate. This time the Advertising Standards Complaints Board had to consider the campaign.

One complainant wrote, “I object to the use of this language in such public sight where people might (a) take offence, and (b) have to explain the advert to children. I realize that in parts of society use of this word is fairly common, but more often than not in that case it would be used within the context of a group of people who do not take offence to it. This advert on the other hand by its public nature cannot show any discretion or decrement with regards to the appropriateness of the audience viewing the advert.”

Another complainant wrote, “Mr Bush is a GOD-fearing upright man who (I would say) will never be seen in Hell. It is a terrible and vicious smear campaign against a person who is openly a Christian…. Secondly to say that “Hell is too good” – is a complete and utter disregard of GOD and His purposes. Hell is the absolute indisputable worst punishment for anybody. So to suggest that it is even remotely good is terribly misleading. Then to have a photo of an upright, publicly GOD-fearing man which stands for what he believes is right is an immoral, vicious undermining of his authority.”

Even Hell Has Its Standards - defaced billboard

A defaced billboard from Wellington – “Even Hell Has Its Standards”.

Responses

Cinderella told the board the billboard was erected to capitalise on the growing sense of outrage that was building around the invasion of Iraq and the role George Bush had played.

“We believe, and given the even greater opposition to the war in Iraq and George Bush’s plummeting popularity among voters in the US, that the billboard was not only socially responsible, but incredibly prescient given events that have unfolded subsequently,” the agency said.

It also noted that “much to our chagrin, the billboard company acted unilaterally (much like George Bush in fact) and removed the billboard as soon as it received complaints”.

Regarding the “bastard” complaints, Cinderella said use of the term was widespread in New Zealand and could sometimes even be a compliment.

“We would point the Board to the seminal work by New Zealand author Barry Crump (Crump Productions Ltd 197I) His book, ‘Bastards I Have Met’ was a wide-ranging, almost academic study of the different types of bastard that one could encounter throughout New Zealand.”

“Of course George Bush had not yet come to prominence when Crump was writing, but had he been in office at the time, and if Barry had met him, I feel sure he would have qualified for his own chapter, headed ‘Evil Bastard’.

“As it stands, George W could certainly fit within the genus of bastard identified as a `Bad bastard’ (bastardus skullduggerus), or arguably for a subgroup of this particular type of bastard – the `real bad bastard’ – although that is not for us to say,” the agency said.

Decisions

At its meeting on January 31 the ASA decided that the term ‘evil bastards’ was offensive because of exposure to all members of society, including children. Accordingly, the Complaints Board ruled that the advertisement, in relation to the use of that phrase, had not been prepared and displayed with a due sense of social responsibility and would be likely to cause serious offence, thereby breaching Basic Principle 4 and Rule 5 of the Code of Ethics.

The Complaints Board was unanimously of the view that the other issues raised, although offensive to the complainants, did not meet the threshold to cause serious or widespread offense, and thereby the advertisement was not in breach of the Advertising Codes in relation to those issues.

Basic Principle 4: All advertisements should be prepared with a due sense of social responsibility to consumers and to society; and

Rule 5: Offensiveness – Advertisements should not contain anything which in light of generally prevailing community standards is likely to cause serious or widespread offence taking into account the contest, medium, audience and product (including services).

Filed under: Billboards, Hell Pizza, Print

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  • Jenn

    I live in the US. Bush sucks. I loved the billboards

  • Joseph Michaud

    I live in the US. Don’t like bush, DID NOT VOTE FOR HIM! I think your billboards are cool, I an going to send this link to my friends. Do you deliver?

  • stephane morrison

    I am from Canada and I think if someone cannot see the funny side of those advertisement they must be very sad people.

  • Meryl Ann

    I live in the US. I did not vote for Bush. (Actually, a MAJORITY of us DIDN’T vote for him, but you probably know that already. I hope you don’t have computer-voting in your country – if not, NEVER let it happen! Paper ballots are the only way to make sure that the person with the actual votes, actually wins!)

    Anyway, usually, when I see an image of Bush I feel like crying. When I saw this image, I laughed, and my heart was touched. This billboard gave me hope!

    Some of us in the US feel like we are silently and invisibly drowning in Bush’s evil. Now, at least, I know we are not invisible to the world. Thank you for noticing, and thank you for responding.

    And these billboards live on in the photos, and give us hope to reclaim a more peaceful world. I am forwarding this info to everyone.

    Wow, what a pizza you must be making there!

    Thank you!

    And, sorry about Bush, we are trying to fix this.

  • Drew in Ft. Lauderdsale, FL, USA

    Another US citizen here…
    Bush and the current administration most emphatically do NOT represent the majority of US citizens. I detest them (Bush et. all), and agree with the ad’s copy.

    The ads may well have been inappropriate in using the word ‘bastard’, but that’s up to you Kiwis to decide. The general meaning and other terms used are right on the money, though.

    And kudos to the marketing agency responsible for this – this is the best advertising you could have come up with: a worldwide discussion of your client’s company. Right on!

    Oh, and in response to the person in the article going on and on about god – get a life, and buy a clue. The bulk of Bush’s actions and policies are in direct opposition to Christian principles, and if you’d read your bible a little bit you might find that you agree.

  • Scott

    I live in the United States. I think what is offensive is the 1.2 million Iraqis who died in an illegal war over WMD that didn’t exist.

    I think what is offensive is four million refugees.

    I remember being outside of the United States and watching a TV clip of a smiling Iraqi boy with no arms. He called the doctor over and asked him “How long will it take for my arms to grow back?” The doctor started to cry.

    Anyone who is offended by the ad, rather then the needless slaughter of children, incredible human suffering in Iraq, and all the lies used by Bush to justify this war probably has a heart that is four sizes too small.

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  • Moloch

    Bush killed any hope I have for the future of this country. I served for years in the US armed forces, and the day I took off my uniform, it was because of the overwhelming sense of shame it gave me to wear when I saw what I was being used to do. I love my counry. I love my people. But this man, and the work he is making us do is unquestionably evil. Of this there can be no argument or debate. Invading a sovereign nation, detaining and murdering it’s ruler, attacking three seperate nations without justifiable cause or provocation and reaping oil profits in the hundreds of billions, all at the expense of the american taxpayer and the lives of the people ground in the gears. This man is evil. To serve or defend him is evil.