Did these hot buns cross the line?

20 Apr

I found this zombie video promotion for one Hell Pizza in New Zealand. It’s amazingly well done. 3 million plus views on YouTube as well.

It turns out that the Pizza chain has more on its agenda than leveraging the undeniable beauty of the shambling, red-mouthed dead guys. They are out to shock on many levels.

Their website, which I applaud, led me to their latest promotion: Two free hot cross buns with every pizza purchase. So far so good until you see the poster that supports it.

You can be sure this will offend people. Hell, it was designed to offend people.

All the good currency they’ve built up with their cool site and video risks getting burned with this dig at Christians.

The argument coming back will be: But they’re HELL PIZZA – it’s totally in brand!

What do you think? Did they go too far?


13 Responses to “Did these hot buns cross the line?”

  1. Mario Parise April 20, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

    I don’t think they went too far, since this is precisely what they were going after. Advertising shouldn’t be afraid to offend people.

    That doesn’t mean I personally like it, though. (I’m no Christian, but I respect far too many people who are Christian to want to offend them like this.)

    If their goal is to appeal to satanists, atheists, and other people who enjoy making fun of Christians, than all the power to them. It’s like comedians making religious jokes. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you know you’re not gonna win any fans with the religious crowds. Comics who make fat jokes know they’re alienating fat people. Comics who make fun of republicans know they’re alienating republicans. As long as you know who your audience is, and who your audience is not, then it’s all fair game.

    Now, that being said, I do think there are some lines that shouldn’t be crossed.

    For example, if this ad were being run where kids could see it (like an outdoor billboard), that might be a bit mean to the kids from Christian families who haven’t yet reached an age to be able to think critically about this stuff.

    Or example #2, if they intentionally went out of their way to put this up in religious places (like pinning this on church bulletin boards). That would just be intentionally mean.

    The other thing to consider in all of this is that Hell Pizza might still appeal to religious folk if they avoided being outright offensive to them. Most Christians still go to horror movies and participate in Halloween, and many listen to bands with “unfriendly” lyrics. It’s all in good fun. Mocking the death of their Lord & Savior pretty much guarantees they won’t think it’s funny anymore. (Then again, it doesn’t seem to hurt Lady Gaga’s popularity, so maybe they’re on to something.)

    All of which is to say that I hope the controversy is worth it and brings them enough publicity to justify alienating such a large portion of the population. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, they won’t be able to blame anyone but themselves.

  2. dougbrowncreative April 20, 2011 at 1:53 pm #

    I think the timing of this outdoor billboard campaign was a bit unfortunate Mario, as it falls on the Easter holiday, surely no coincidence. In that respect if falls under your example #2, going out of their way to prod Christian sensitivities.

    I wonder if they would have been quite so courageous about taking digs at Mohammed. Thanks for the great comment!

  3. margriet aasman April 20, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

    I always feel that I am called to be ‘sensitive’ in my dealings with others. Sensitive to their ethnic background, their age, their religious affiliations, what they value and hold dear. Whenever I talk with someone at work, whether they are an employee, a client, a partner, I must be respectful, helpful, nice,… if they are a friend, or a person on the street the same thing. We are penalized if we are not sensitive: no friends, or even charged. Yet when it comes to advertising and we need to get peoples attention, we are allow ourselves to break the rules. Is this right? At what point are we wrong, or crossing the line? I am a Christian. To your point about the timing of this campaign around Easter, I am very offended. Do I set aside my personal feelings, and as a creative person say what great branding?

  4. Michael Tension April 20, 2011 at 3:33 pm #

    The billboard made me smile, but then I fit within the demographic. Is it in bad taste? Yeah. But what the hell, Christians have been annoying the rest of us for many lifetimes, not to mention the many murderous crusades in god’s name.

    On a side note: Jesus was the first zombie in recorded history. Happy Easter.

  5. dougbrowncreative April 20, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    I can’t do that myself Margriet. My values are my values. For example, any site that exploits kids, not matter how true to their brand personality, I am going to have a problem with. I won’t work for that brand either.

    In my opinion, insensitivity is not the only option open to advertisers who want to cut through and get noticed. If it was, I wouldn’t be working in the biz. If we see something that offends us, we should acknowledge it. Thanks for opening the conversation up with that honest comment.

  6. Mike Fromowitz April 20, 2011 at 3:40 pm #

    I had a fun ride watching these videos. Be interesting to find out how the sales went rather than the number of hits on YouTube.
    “Hot Cross Buns” seems to come out of left field–should have stuck with Zombies.
    Did it cross the line? Can’t wait to see the ads for Jews, Muslims and Buddhists.

  7. dougbrowncreative April 20, 2011 at 3:48 pm #

    > Michael T – I guess it’s not all that far removed from Anti Christ-mas eh?

    > Mike F, I would like to know too. My guess is the raving fans became more so. But I wouldn’t hold your breath for anti-Semitic or Muslim ads. Is a fatwa worth a few pizza pies sold?

  8. Michael Tension April 20, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

    Yup, pretty much. And this ad got Old Nicks a few disgruntle phone calls from the secularly impaired http://www.yourcopeland.com/visual/tension/Old-Nicks.jpg

  9. Bertha April 20, 2011 at 7:39 pm #

    They didn’t go too far at all

    I can see why some people would be offended by the billboard, but..

    The pentagram has 5 points, yes? Well, 5 has been seen as a mystical number, one which is all around us. 5 fingers, 5 toes, 5 senses, 5 wounds of Christ on the cross, and on it goes within other religions and beyond.

    Get to the point right?

    Well, the circle around the pentagram signifies protection as it contains the star and its 5 points. The pentagram has been viewed as a protection against evil.

    So, all this billboard is suggesting is that their buns are so delicious, they’re sacred. And since their whole campaign revolves around ‘Hell’ Pizza, I think they executed this campaign rather cleverly.

    Don’t worry about your kids– educate them.

    (by the way this really makes me think of the Atheist bus ads seen in many places of the world and Vic—‘There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.’)

    As for the zombie ad—bloody rocked. BIG TIME.

    I’d be curious to know what they spent producing this and how much their sales raised.

  10. Amy April 21, 2011 at 6:28 am #

    I don’t know if it went to far because I don’t know how sensitive people in NZ are to this kind of thing. Try running this add in Georgia, though, and see how many riots it starts.
    Aside from it being offensive, I just don’t find it that funny or even clever. It’s shocking for the sake of being shocking. I expect more from a company that has such a kick-ass zombie ad.

  11. dougbrowncreative April 21, 2011 at 6:51 am #

    > That’s a very glass-half-full way of looking at the poster Bertha and while I love this interpretation of the pentagram, I am glass-half-empty that the creative minds who came up with it were on your wavelength. Great comment.

    > Amy i think you hit on an interesting angle: Is Hell Pizza simply for anything evil? Zombies are fictitious (SURELY NOT!) horror creations made to entertain. We all get that. Religions cut across the bows of people’s deepest held beliefs. This ad would hurt people, not just shock them. For that reason, I think Hell Pizza went too far.

  12. Bertha April 21, 2011 at 11:03 am #

    I’m am definitely a glass half empty kind of girl myself, and of course the creatives that came up with this ad were looking for nothing other than the shock factor (and by George they got it), but I felt like trying to justify it in a different light.


  1. self breast exam - October 18, 2011

    self breast exam…

    […]Did these hot buns cross the line? « We make it all better[…]…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s