The Hell pizza chain is removing its billboards of Hitler saluting with a pizza slice after complaints from the Jewish community.
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The chain, which has had a string of complaints about its advertising, including a condom mailout last year, said the Hitler billboards in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch were meant to lampoon Hitler rather than be offensive.
The Nazi leader is shown in a Heil Hitler salute with pizza in his hand, next to his quote: "It is possible to make people believe that heaven is hell."
Yesterday afternoon the Hitler billboard in Christchurch's Lincoln Road was replaced with another one in the chain's famous-quotes campaign Pope Benedict saying "Hell is real and eternal".
Kirk MacGibbon, from Cinderella, the Auckland agency that handles the chain's advertising, said yesterday he had received three complaints from Jewish people in Auckland who were offended by the Hitler billboard.
Some had lost family members in the Holocaust.
"We hoped we could get away with people seeing Hitler with a piece of pizza would be funny," MacGibbon said.
"We do recognise there were some horrendous things done and if people are not seeing it as lampooning, we are dealing with a slightly different animal and we will back down."
German-born Christchurch resident Sussanne Bonnemann complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after seeing the Hitler billboard in Addington on Saturday.
By yesterday afternoon the billboard had been covered with another poster.
"I was just shocked," said Bonnemann yesterday.
"Obviously, the people behind it, you can see they want to provoke, but that has just gone too far.
"It just shows they have no idea what this man has done and how many people have died under his regime, and it's disrespectful to all their relatives."
Last year, Hell's condom mailout to promote its Lust pizza attracted 685 complaints, and the ASA ruled it had breached standards of decency and social responsibility.
The chain has also received complaints, particularly from conservative groups, about its Hell-O magazine, which featured model Nicky Watson on the cover.
MacGibbon said the agency did not set out to offend or generate publicity with its advertising.
The Hell chain had a fun and controversial style, he said.
"What I would say is meek and mild does not get you media. We aim to create memorability, but to say we like to create public campaigns is not right," he said.
- The Press
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