A cheeky chicken meal advertisement poking fun at President Robert Mugabe as “the last dictator standing” who misses the company of deceased autocrats was pulled from South African television on Thursday.
The advert which upset President Mugabe’s supporters shows a cheerless look-alike of the President posing to reminisce about happier times with the likes of Uganda’s Idi Amin and Muammar Gaddafi, after placing the dead Libyan leader’s name card on an empty banquet table.
“We’ve noted with concern the political reaction emanating out of Zimbabwe, including perceived threats against Nando’s Zimbabwe’s management, staff and customers,” said Nando’s South Africa.
“Nando’s South Africa takes these threats very seriously and will regrettably no longer flight the TV commercial as part of our festive season campaign.”
A pro-President Mugabe youth group in Harare had denounced the advert, showing the 87-year-old frolicking with Gaddafi with water guns to the sounds of Those Were the Days before singing karaoke with China’s Mao Zedong.
He goes on to gleefully make sand angels with Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, push apartheid henchman PW Botha on a swing and carry out a Titanic-type enactment from the smash hit movie atop an army tank behind Ugandan butcher Amin.
The bulk chicken meal special ends with a solitary President Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe for more than 30 years, and a pay-off line against eating alone.
“We feel strongly that this is the prudent step to take in a volatile climate and believe that no TV commercial is worth risking the safety of Nando’s staff and customers,” said the company.
The South African company, which has branched out internationally, is well-known for its tongue-in-cheek, often controversial advertising campaigns.
Innscor Africa, the Zimbabwean owners of the Nando’s franchise, had earlier in the week distanced themselves from the advert, saying it was targeted at the South African market.
“The Nando’s SA advertisement, which denigrates the person of President Robert Mugabe, was generated in South African for South African markets and clientele,” Innscor Africa group corporate affairs executive Musekiwa Kumbula was quoted as saying.
“Nando’s Zimbabwe strongly feels the advertisement was insensitive and in poor taste.”