Nandos Robert Mugabe Advert: Brilliant or Stupid?

So there was a lot of hoorah over the recently aired advert by Nandos in South Africa (not to be confused with Zimbabwe’s Nandos, owned by Innscor). The advert, ‘The Last Dictator Standing’, features a Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe look-alike, frolicking with the likes of Muammar Gadaffi, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussien and more… as he remembers the good old days. With the demise of all ‘his friends’, the Zimbabwean president is left to dine alone for Christmas. Not what Nandos wants for you this Christmas.

The advert, as would be expected, went viral, being featured all over the place. I first saw it on BBC. My personal feelings about it were mixed. Politically, i thought it was quite insensitive and even disrespectful for a South African company to make fun of a Zimbabwean president, especially just to sell more chicken. They crossed the line and I’m glad they pulled it off the air. There is a level of respect that’s due to a head of state.


Nandos did accomplish something i bet you’d love do yourself…Get Noticed.

In fact they did more than that, they went viral.

Viral marketing is what happens when a message spreads like an unstoppable virus, reaching far more people than the initial audience, dominating conversations and drastically increasing the visibility of an offer/brand/whatever. Think of it as word of mouth on steroids. Really strong steroids.

How did they do it? By doing something out of the ordinary.

Being ordinary is boring, and boring is the biggest sin in marketing.

No one is influenced by boring. No one remembers boring. No one talks about boring. Boring is not news, and news is what everyone wants to talk about and spread. I challenge entrepreneurs and marketers to design advertising messages to compete with the local news headlines. Strive to make your headlines so extraordinary that your market feels forced to read more. Make your offers so good that a sane man in your market would be a fool to ignore or reject you. Make your adverts remarkable.

Remarkable = something worth making a remark about.

Whilst the Nandos advert portraying President Robert Mugabe as the last Dictator standing was certainly insensitive, even dangerous, it was not boring. It was so out of the ordinary that it was worth remarking about. It competed with everyday news headlines and it spread. Exactly what you want for your brand, exactly the type of advertising that Made Richard Branson a house hold name. It can do the same for you.

But politics aside, was it a good advert?

That’s a post for another day, but I’ll say this… it takes much more than just attention to persuade or move the masses. Once you have my attention, you have to do the right thing with it if you want me to buy. One of the reasons why so many sexy adverts don’t work. Last thing you want is an advert that costs you $200 000, spreads all around the world, gets people talking, does not get people buying.

Stay smart.

One Reply to “Nandos Robert Mugabe Advert: Brilliant or Stupid?”

  1. i think it was stupid, insensitve, and certainly not good for business. there is a whole bunch of mugabe sympathisers who love nandoos like myself but after i so that stupid advert i stopped eating nandoos chicken. that advert sucks to say the least. it can only come from a shallow minded racialistic and an uncouth individual.

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