A new tv ad from the South Africa-based chicken restaurant chain, Nando’s, is prompting laughs and raising some eye brows. The ad features look-a-likes for a slew of tyrants from Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe to the late Muammar Gaddafi of Libya.
Anchor Marco Werman speaks with Gia Nicolaides, a reporter based in Johannesburg, about reaction to the ad.
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Marco Werman: I’m Marco Werman, this is The World. There’s a new ad for the South Africa based chicken restaurant chain, Nando’s. And it’s funny in a dark kind of way. It opens on a Robert Mugabe look-a-like. The Zimbabwean leader is reminiscing. We see scenes of Mugabe sharing good times with tyrants of the past — Libya’s Muamar Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein of Iraq, South African’s P.W. Botha and Uganda’s Idi Amin. But they’re all gone now. Mugabe sits alone at a Christmas dinner table.
Ad narrator: This time of year no one should have to eat alone, so get a Nando’s six pack meal for six.
Werman: Gia Nicolaides is a news reporter for Eyewitness News in South Africa. She’s based in Johannesburg and has been reporting on local reaction to this ad. Gia, what are you hearing?
Gia Nicolaides: Well, the funny thing is, Marco, that I’ve just been walking through some office buildings and some restaurants around Johannesburg, and more than actually people having an immediate reaction to it, it’s people showing this Nando’s ad on their cellphones to their colleagues and their friends. And many of them just believe that this is the vintage ad from Nando’s and based that they’ve seen in the past 10 years and it really has gone viral.
Werman: Well, it’s very entertaining, but is it selling chicken?
Nicolaides: It is I think at the end of the day because right at the end you see a glum looking Robert Mugabe sitting alone and he’s at the table with the tag line, “At this time of the year no one should have to eat alone.” And of course, it’s chicken, and honestly, everyone eats chicken unless you’re vegetarian. So it basically is a popular brand, a popular food and this just really hits home I think with every South African because it was so controversial, yet at the same time it poked fun at very serious issues.
Werman: It’s hard to imagine a fast food chain in the United States running such an ad, you know, with this kind of humorous political content. I mean it fits in more with I guess kind of British coy ad humor than the American tendency to show you a product and explain why you should buy it. Are these types of ads common in South Africa or does Nando’s really stand out for pushing buttons?
Nicolaides: Nando’s definitely stands out for pushing buttons. Everyone talks about the latest Nando’s ad and this one I think really kind of looks at a global political issue or issues, and I think that is the first time they’ve done that to quite that extreme.
Werman: There was this Nando’s ad where there’s a blind woman with her guide dog, and the guide dog intentionally leads her into a pole, knocks her unconscious and then proceeds to eat the chicken that she just bought at Nando’s. Now, the South African Advertising Standards Authority called for the ad to be withdrawn. Is there any kind of outcry with the last dictator standing ad?
Nicolaides: There doesn’t seem to be any outcry at this stage. I think the South African population and consumers have really enjoyed this one, but at the same time it’s poking fun as I said before, at rather serious issues and I think what they really tried to do is express what other people think, but won’t necessarily say. And it takes a lot of guts, but at the same time I think it’s really what South Africa enjoys.
Werman: And finally, Gia, what is in a Nando’s six pack people and is it any good?
Nicolaides: I’m definitely going to go and try it because it looks like a big enough meal to feed my entire family and I know that their chicken is good. And that’s really it because we know that they ads are good, but so is their food.
Werman: All right, listeners can see the entertaining last dictator standing commercial at theworld.org. Gia Nicolaides, a news reporter with Eyewitness News in Johannesburg, South Africa, very good to speak with you. Thanks a lot.
Nicolaides: Thank you.
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