Digging Down To Hell
No word from those not-so-terribly-nice chaps at Hell Pizza in New Zealand in response to claims they reneged on a charity donation. Despite suggesting via Twitter that a response would be forthcoming, it has all gone quiet – well, from the company at least. Articles and tweets on their tight-fistedness and the ever-present charm of director and scourge of “dorks” everywhere, Warren ‘Otis’ Powell, abound. Monday’s article here on Babble Talk remains the second most read feature on the site, after the UK mobile hacking story. The inevitable Facebook page has been spawned. If @HellPizza666 was expecting the story to simply die ………. ooops.
Still, time well spent as I could dig into the internet to learn a bit more about the company. Hell Revolution Limited are the owners of the franchise-selling outfit. Powell is the marketing guru who joined the 2 original founders and used his powers to push the brand into the limelight. They flogged the business to Burger King and trousered NZD 15 million in the process. Not bad. When Burger King struggled to make a go of it, the diabolic trio – alongside Powell are Callum Davies and Stu McMullin – bought the business back in 2009. Trebles all round ! The brand has impressive depth and a neat product set with nice tie-ins beyond pizza. Powell undoubtedly has a talent for making money as well as mischief, and is clearly a chap who considers any publicity to be good publicity. Fair play. With Powell’s pushing, the brand has been launched in Australia, India, Canada and the UK.
The problem with Hell Pizza is that it is not terribly good. The pizza bases and sauces are thin and cheap; the apparent breadth on the menu is deceptive; and collectively the offerings are expensive when compared to the competition. Simply adding a weak chilli base to a thin tomato sauce does not a unique and tasty pizza make. I have sampled Hell (!) in Queenstown, Auckland and Rotorua and each time it has been disappointing. Delivered / provided over the counter on time, hot and well presented, the bite does not live up to the promise. Far from just boycotting the brand, I have simply walked away on the grounds of, er, taste. Still, there is no denying that Hell hath its followers. The brand remains popular and, despite foot-in-mouth from Powell and his minions, the occasional loyal customer has tweeted in their defence.
So quality and taste aside, perhaps Hell is simply just a target for the New Zealand Herald, as has been suggested ? Does not seem to be the case as it is not just the Herald that is talking about Hell’s reneging on the promise of NZD10K to KidsCan. All the stories seem to have had a fair airing in other media. From the hacking of the Hell website and customer database, to the launch of an SFO investigation into the main company and Powell’s other business interests, coverage has been relatively wide. Powell has been there in almost every case with what seems to be a standard response – it is all the fault of some disgruntled former employee.
On the breach of web security and release of personal data :
Hell Pizza director Warren Powell said he suspected a former employee might be behind the security breach.
“We are honestly taking this very seriously,” he told the newspaper.
“We take customers’ personal details bloody seriously and we spend a lot of money on security.”
On being investigated by the SFO :
Powell blamed a “rogue” former employee of the company for the allegations. “We fired [him] because he was an absolute ratbag.”
Via Twitter, on the reports in the Herald about reneging on KidsCan committment :
HELLpizza666 : official
“Oh, and reporter is good friend of said disgruntled ex-employee. Same guy who wrote about SFO probe full of inaccuracies #heraldHELL“
Funny old world. As pointed out in responses to earlier articles, voting with our feet and boycotting Hell Pizza just hits the poor franchise operators – Powell and his cronies are relatively fire-proof. Worth keeping an eye on when and where he will be popping up with a public -speaking opportunity. Such a clever, rich and thoroughly unpleasant man deserves an audience.