Condom-based promotions, racist ads for brownies, accusations of franchisee bullying, awarding sex crimes with prizes on social media ... Hell Pizza has often been on the wrong side of the authorities over the years for its controversial marketing stunts. But the shoe is on the other foot now and, in quintessential Hell style, it's sent a tongue-in-cheek "cease, desist and go sit in the corner" letter to one of its major competitors, Pizza Hut.
Addressed to Mr Hut, the letter from Mr D.E. Ville of Satan & Satan Associates seems to bear the mark of Barnes, Catmur & Friends and ran as a full-page ad in the Herald today.
And it says: "I represent Hell Pizza, New Zealand's foremost purveyors of quality pizzas. I wish to draw your attention to, and demand the removal of, your Google ad that orders people to 'Don't Go Hell Pizza'. Crimes against grammar aside, this contravenes the Slagging Off Your Opponents in a Desperate Attempt to Gain Customers Act of 1993. Having once tried your product, I am not surprised to see such tasteless advertising tactics, but perhaps you should leave that to the professionals. If you're losing customers, I recommend you discover why by going to Hell and sampling their appropriately named pizza 'Envy'. If not, I suggest you go there anyway."
The cease and desist letter is a delicate art and other recent examples of a more human approach to legal infringements, like that of Jack Daniel's, show that taking a less confrontational tack often leads to warm consumer fluffies (on the other side of that coin, when the law is used as a battering ram, like the case of DB Breweries' misguided decision to enforce its trademark of Radler, it just makes them look like heavy-handed, heartless corporate knobs).
While it doesn't appear this particular case will be heading for court, it does show how brands need to be careful when they use competitor's brands as Google keywords, something evidenced clearly in a recent case between Marks & Spencer and Interflora in the UK.
Speaking of pizza, here is a very accurate depiction of the Great Pizza Wars of the Modern Era from The Onion.