Hot cross blasphemy as pizza and church collide

You can rely on the rather liberal St Matthew in the City church in Auckland to ruffle the feathers of the puritans and zealots with its ‘progressive’ billboards. And, as history has shown, you can also rely on Hell Pizza to stoke a few offensive coals with its advertising. Well, this Easter, the two of them have become surprising bedfellows. 

Hell Pizza, which is now working with Barnes Catmur & Friends, recently put up billboards advertising its limited time only hot cross buns and likened them to the limited-time only Jesus. As expected, the typical blast about blasphemy followed from Anglican media guy Lloyd Ashton, who told the Herald he was tired of advertising agencies using religious controversy to sell products.

“Their buns are stale. The ad is another example of already over-remunerated ad people getting paid more to churn out ‘risque’ ads,” he said.

Talking about how angry you are about controversial advertising in the country’s biggest newspaper is almost like someone who tells their friends they really don’t want a stripper at their stag/hen’s do, or someone who tells their friends they really dislike their nickname. It just encourages them to do more of it and it’s exactly the kind of reaction the ‘over-remunerated ad people’ are after.

Photo: Paul Harper, nzherald.co.nz

But, as per usual, St Matthew in the city took a slightly different approach in its response and, with the help of TBWA, which took over from M&C Saatchi about one year ago, put up a billboard referencing that of Hell Pizza’s to show it had a sense of humour and not all ecclesiastic types were offended. If anything, St Matthew in the City is basically the Hell Pizza of the religious world and uses controversial advertising to draw attention to what it stands for.

Its Facebook page says emails are running five to one in favour of the slightly in-jokey billboard. And, not surprisingly, the Hell Pizza fans have been particularly taken by it.

And for your easterly pleasure, some more of the church’s billboard handiwork.

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