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‘She-devil’ sign fails to impress

A complaint was made to the New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority about this Hell Pizza mobile billboard last month. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

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A mobile billboard depicting a cartoon “she-devil” serving donuts has ruffled feathers in Carterton.

The sign, advertising Hell Pizza Masterton’s Unholy Donut dessert, and another sign advertising its Lust de Luxe pizza, sparked a complaint to the New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority last month.

The authority has since ruled there were no grounds for the complaint to proceed.

The Unholy Donut advertisement shows a cartoon woman with horns and a devil’s tail serving donuts at a stand.

The text says, “A warm donut freshly fried and sinfully pumped full of decadent salted caramel plus your choice of dark, milk or white chocolate”.

The Lust de Luxe pizza shows a meat cleaver inserted into a few pieces of meat.

The text says, “Our meatiest pizza just got meatier”.

A Carterton resident complained to the [NZASA] claiming the advertisement used adult themes in public.

“This sign is outside my house, which is right next to a primary school [South End School, Carterton].

“It is also advertising for a shop that is in the next town, so is encouraging people to travel while we have been told to restrict travel as much as possible.”

The authority’s chair noted the resident’s concerns, but said the billboards did not reach the threshold to be considered offensive or socially irresponsible under the Advertising Standards Code.

They said while the cartoon woman in the first advertisement was portrayed as a “she-devil”, she was fully clothed as she sold donuts from a road-side stall.

“The reference to “unholy” could also be seen as a reference to the fact that a donut usually has a hole in the centre, but the advertiser’s product does not,” the ruling stated.

“In the second advertisement, the reference to the meatiest pizza getting “meatier” was on one level a simple reference to the amount of meat contained in the pizza.

“While the word “lust” is generally used to refer to sexual desire, it can also mean having a hunger for something, for example having a “lust for power” or a “lust for food”.”

The chair ruled that the placement of the mobile billboard was socially responsible.

“The fact that it was placed next to a primary school was not socially irresponsible, because the execution of the advertisement would not appeal to primary school aged children.”

The chair also said at the time of the complaint, travel within regions was allowed, and so “the fact that the advertisement was placed in Carterton and the store selling the product advertised was in Masterton was not socially irresponsible”.

Hell Pizza chief executive Ben Cumming welcomed the ruling.

“There always has been and always will be a small group of people who don’t relate to our brand, but it’s reassuring to see the NZASA let the personality of the Hell brand shine through so our fans can enjoy it and get their fix of lust, or whatever other sins they desire.

“We know our advertising sparks all sorts of conversation – it’s part of who we are and what we do.

“At times like this, it’s more important than ever that our local franchisees are out in their communities advertising their business so we commend [Masterton owner] William Keedwell for his eye-catching tactics.”


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