A new ad for Nando’s has been pulled by the South African Broadcasting Corporation. It begins, “You know what’s wrong with South Africa? All you foreigners.” It goes on to list many of the country’s ethnic groups, and as their names are called, they vanish. Finally the narrator says, “Real South Africans love diversity.” And then, I don’t know, something about a new chicken platter?
I don’t think it’s worth getting into the unpleasantness of Nando’s food here; the high-end fast food chain is very successful, with locations in over 34 countries (including the U.S.). Nando’s spokesman Mbali Ndlovu-Taoana said the ad was meant to be “a positive message about celebrating diversity and embracing who we are.” But the joke falls flat, with the bodies disappearing in the smoke and that sharp tone of the narrator. The South African Broadcasting Corporation has pulled it for its “xenophobic undertones.”
So Nando’s didn’t get it right, and and neither did PopChips. I don’t see why issues of race and identity can’t be addressed in a funny, intelligent way in 50 seconds, though I suppose commercials will always care more about selling chicken than providing cultural commentary.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on June 7, 2012