Hell Pizza faced a storm of criticism on social media this evening when it announced the winning entry in its “Confessional” competition on Facebook. In which the “confessor” jovially recalled placing his penis in the mouth of someone who was sleeping.
Following an outcry they removed the post, explaining:
Hey everyone, tonight we posted a fan’s confession seeing it in the spirit of a prank between mates. Once we understood that offence had been taken and saw the bad light the post could be seen in we removed it, and we apologise to those offended. Lesson learned.
This was beyond the “if offence taken” scale of things, though – it described a sexual assault. (You can still view it here.)
Given the pratfalls in their recent past, some may consider Hell Pizza beyond redemption.
UPDATE (August 16, 12.00pm): According to a report in the NZ Herald, Hell Pizza has offered to make precisely the donation suggested above. Wellington Rape Crisis has said they’d consider accepting the donation on the condition that Hell staff take part in a bit of awareness training.
However, some are not the least bit impressed. Tangerina argues that the Hell Pizza offer has left Rape Crisis with an “awful choice”:
After giving someone free pizza for admitting to sexually assaulting their friend, Hell Pizza has decided to offer to fund the struggling Wellington Rape Crisis service. This is an AWFUL position for the agency to be in, and it shows the privilege that wealthy companies have. While it might seem like a nice gesture, it could also be as simple as an attempt at good public relations. A company which rewards sexual assault swooping in and white knighting for an organisation that may not be able to afford to refuse them IS RAPE CULTURE. If the Government truly valued Wellington Rape Crisis, they would not be in the awful position of having to consider closing, or taking money from a company like Hell Pizza.
Read it in full here.
UPDATE 2 (1.40pm): Wellington Rape Crisis has accepted, reluctantly, the Hell Pizza donation. Scroll down for more.
UPDATE 3 (Friday August 17, 5.20pm): The NZ Police has contacted Hell Pizza over the “confession” – viat Twitter. More here.
Releases from Wellington Rape Crisis and Hell Pizza, via Scoop:
Wellington Rape Crisis (WRC) was today approached by Hell Pizza with an offer of donation to support their agency, which was this week forced to cut services by 20% due to funding issues. The approach came after Hell Pizza posted a Facebook “Confessional’ that described a sexual assault.
Wellington Rape Crisis Agency Manager Natalie Gousmett says “Hell Pizza made a mistake, the confession described an illegal sexual assault and it is offensive and harmful that they posted it. We are pleased to see that they have apologised unreservedly and are taking action to ensure something similar does not occur again”.
“Hell Pizza has agreed to pay for training for its staff, to be run by the Wellington Sexual Abuse Network (of which Wellington Rape Crisis is the lead agency) in rape and sexual violence awareness and ethical bystander skills. This training programme will help change the culture of the organisation,” says Gousmett.
“They have also offered to donate $10,000 to our agency, which we have accepted as this will enable us to provide over 100 sessions of counselling or social work support and they have further offered to match dollar-for-dollar any donations made to our fundy site between today and the end of the month, up to the $55,000 we need to open our doors on a Friday again.”
“It just seems wrong that an agency like ours is put in the position of having to make decisions about whether to accept a donation like this. We provide essential and valued services to people who have been raped and sexually abused; we should be sustainably funded by Government,” Gousmett says.
The Hell Pizza statement on Facebook
Last night our Social Media Manager posted a Facebook Confessional post that was not approved by Callum or Stu the owners of the NZ brand. He normally does a great job, but in this case he got it wrong. We unreservedly apologise for this comment and have taken steps to stop it from reoccurring. Sexual assault is no joke and we would like to use the massive level of discussion on this to highlight the need of Wellington Rape Crisis (WRC). Wellington Rape Crisis provides free support and counselling to survivors of rape and sexual abuse but has this week been forced to cut its services due to funding issues. Many of you feel strongly about this so here a chance to put words into action as we are. We are making a 10k donation to WRC today and until the end of the month we will match any donation to Wellington Rape Crisis dollar for dollar to help them get to their target of 55k – so they can stay open 5 days a week!
We encourage you all to join with us in raising money and awareness for Wellington Rape Crisis. Their team will track all the donations from today until the end of the month – you can do it here http://www.fundy.co.nz/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=23&products_id=193
As part of our commitment to ensuring this doesn’t happen again we will also be putting our team and staff through a sexual violence awareness and ethical bystander training run by the Wellington Sexual Abuse Network, of which Wellington Rape Crisis is the lead agency.