Banned Nando's Chicken ad

Banned Nando's Chicken ad

It’s darn hard to be funny—and to get your point across, especially at Christmas.

A perfect case in point in the Nando’s Chicken ad called “The Last Dictator Standing.” It is guffaw-level funny in its depiction of Zimbabwe’s President Mugabe frolicking with his former fellow autocrats to the tune of “Those were the days, my friend” prior to sitting down by himself at a Christmas banquet and a bucket o’ chicken. There’s a great punch line that I won’t spoil for you.

But Mugabe supporters didn’t think it was so funny and threatened Nando’s Chicken outlets in Zimbabwe. The South African company was forced to pull the ad out of circulation.

The Toronto charity, War Child, also tried a funny that flopped. Last Christmas, they put out two ads poking fun at tacky, useless Christmas presents. The tagline was: “Bad gifts don’t save lives. War Child gifts actually do.” They admitted that the ads did very poorly, but chalked it up to too crowded a market place over the prime time for charitable giving.

Both ads, however, proved an opposite case to the statement of the tagline and didn’t make sense. In both cases, the tacky presents actually saved lives. In one, a woman putting up a string of Christmas lights falls backwards and lands on a big, gaudily-wrapped pillow. In the other one, a man manages to give himself the Heimlich maneuver on a gilted leopard statue. Both lives saved by bad presents.

It left me scratching my head.  I do agree however with Stephen Jurisic, partner and creative director at John St who created the ad when asked what non-profits should do during the holidays.

“My advice would be to stay very focused on the loyal donors that you have, especially if you’re a small to medium-sized organization,” he says. “Do something more engaging at a less crowded time.”