Queen Mother was seen rising from the grave to dance to Michael Jackson in an advert for a New Zealand pizza firm which has sparked outrage.
In Hell Pizza’s Halloween commercial animated skeletal versions of the late royal, who died in March 2002, actor Heath Ledger – who passed away following an accidental overdose earlier this year – and mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary all danced to the pop icon’s classic hit Thriller.
Although the company has now withdrawn the advert and apologised to the family of Sir Edmund, they have refused to apologise to the royal family or Heath’s relatives because, according to a spokeswoman for the chain: “unless they are in touch with us I am not convinced they want to hear from us. They probably won’t even know who we are.”
Rachael Allison, the company’s head of marketing denied the clip – which aired on Hell Pizza’s website and in their email newsletter – was meant to cause offense, insisting they were honouring the dead.
She said: “It was meant for out loyal customers and was meant to bring some much loved people back from the dead as a way of honouring them.
“This was always intended to be a humorous communication around Halloween.
“Interpretation of this is always up to the individuals and we are always mindful of that and always keep an eye on our tone of voice and try to keep on top of that.”
Sir Edmund’s son Peter branded the promotion “grotesque” and said it was in “extremely poor taste” as his father’s death 10 months ago was still “pretty raw”.
Hell Pizza is one of the most successful fast food chains in New Zealand. It also has one shop in Fulham, southwest London, and has four shops in Australia.
The company has previously attracted complaints from the Jewish community about a billboard featuring Adolf Hitler saluting with a piece of pizza in his hand.
The Catholic Church called for a boycott of the chain when it distributed condoms to advertise its Lush pizza in 2006.