Thursday, March 01, 2007

"Hell. Too Good For Some Evil Bastards".

Pizza joint censured for George W Bush

Friday, 23 February 2007

A complaint about a Hell Pizza billboard featuring a picture of United States President George W Bush has been partly upheld.
But the Advertising Standards Complaints Board did not find the picture or issues raised by the advertisement offensive, it was the term "evil bastards" that earned their censure.
Hell Pizza's advertising agency, Cinderella Ltd, mounted a spirited defence to the complaints board, even drawing on New Zealand author Barry Crump's book Bastards I Have Met.
The billboard that raised the ire of complainants featured a picture of Mr Bush, and the words "Hell. Too Good For Some Evil Bastards".
One complainant sighted the advertisement on a large billboard on State Highway 1 in Hamilton on November 3, 2006, and complained: "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."
A second complainant said in part: "... 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."
Two other complainants expressed similar views.
The board chairman ruled that under the Code of Ethics, the following provisions were relevant:
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).
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. . . 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.
The board agreed unanimously that the phrase "evil bastards" was offensive when displayed in the community on a billboard, where it was visible to all members of the public, including children.
Accordingly it had not been prepared and displayed with a due sense of social responsibility and would be likely to cause serious offence.
However the other issues raised, though offensive to the complainants, did not meet the threshold to cause serious and widespread offence and the advertisement was not in breach of the Advertising Code in relation to those issues.


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