South Africa’s M&C Saatchi Abel punctures hypocrisy with comedy, following up September’s Afrofuturist satire, writes LBB’s Laura Swinton
It’s the battle of the big South African chicken brands this week as both Nando’s and Chicken Licken release their own comedic campaigns on the same day. And, as serendipity would have it, both campaigns tackle the country’s unique social, cultural and racial context with a deft sense of wit.
Creative agency M&C Saatchi Abel has taken a stand against lazy stereotypes lobbed between the various communities in the country with a wry campaign with the provocative title #YouPeople. The spot sees various characters take offence at a certain cliché levied against them… and hypocritically revealing their own unconscious biases.
Speaking in The South African, Nando’s CMO Doug Place explains the journey that the brand has been on to reach a place where it can tackle potentially prickly topics.
“A year ago we reminded South Africans that we can fix our shit and this ‘you peopling’ is something we can all fix. If you’re watching our ad and say, “I’ve done that” (hopefully with a guilty smile), then we’ve been successful at starting a crucial conversation – hopefully one that starts with ‘us people’,” says Doug.
Tonally, the ad manages to avoid lecturing it’s audiences by playing with characters’ hypocrisy and depicting people from all sorts of backgrounds ‘othering’ various communities. The whole piece hangs together with a lightness and humour thanks to smart direction from Darling’s Chloe Coetsee.
And to show that the brand isn’t content to simply deal in platitudes, the ad also references a shocking racist rant that went viral in the country this year. A white South African man called Adam Catzavelos shared a video of himself on a beach, declaring the place ‘heaven on earth’ as there were no black people there. The local audience have been quick to spot the reference to the video in the ad, which features what many online are referring to as a ‘black Adam Catzavelos’. The brand positions itself as ‘South Africa’s voice of the people’, explains M&C Saatchi Abel Chief Creative Officer Neo Mashigo, and so it strives to tune into the topics that local people are talking and thinking about.
The spot follows another deliciously spiky Nando’s ad which took aim at the recent Afrofuturist trend. exemplified by the Marvel hit Black Panther. Neo Mashigo says that the problem with this popular pan-African fusion approach is that it tends to erase diverse culture rather than to acknowledge it and encourage a more meaningful form of unity. The campaign shows Nando’s taking its own stand, talking about the thorny realities of life in the country.
“There was a lot of Afrofusion and Afrofuturism in how Africa has been portrayed in the media and in advertising. And this was even before Black Panther! In an ad you’ll talk about ‘our’ culture, but when you see the person in the ad, you can’t identify what culture this person is from,” says Neo [you can read more from Neo’s 5 Minutes With… interview here]. “Anyway, it takes away from your actual culture and creates a combination of various things, that becomes meaningless. Nando’s took a point of view and said, ‘is this how we want to talk to people now?’ So we created ads that said, ‘ we are real people and this is how we are’.”