by Oresti Patricios (@orestaki) Two of South Africa’s favourite fast-food chicken outlets have seen new television commercials flying forth from their creative coops. And — happy day — both use humour to market the respective (but competing) brands.

They say choice is hell and, believe me, deciding between these two ads was tough. So please don’t cry foul because this Wednesday I’ve got two great spots for “Ad of the Week”.

Brand-building ads

Nando’s and Chicken Licken continue their campaigns to win the hearts and stomachs of South African consumers with ads that have a lot more than a good belly laugh in common. For example, neither commercial focuses too much on chicken. Rather, the two are what are classically called “brand-building ads” — they both look to aspects of SA culture to entrench their brands as ‘iconically’ South African.

On the one hand, Chicken Licken’s “Rick” ad has been showing for a few weeks now, and it certainly stands up to repeated viewing. On the other hand, Nando’s takes a satirical poke at our politicians and their transportation methods in “Blue Light Brigade”.

Net#work BBDO TVC for Chicken Licken: “Rick”

In “Rick”, Chicken Licken continues with its absurdist vein of humour, telling the story of a very ordinary office worker who abandons his job, his Lonehill Johannesburg home, his wife and baby, to go ‘on a quest’.

The entire video was shot by Net#work BBDO in Nepal, with locals for extras, for the sake of authenticity. The story is told by a narrator, interspersed with comments from various people.

Chicken Lick: "Rick" TVC screengrabIt’s a humorous spoof of people who leave ‘civilisation’ to go to ashrams or monasteries to ‘find themselves.’ Rick’s long-suffering wife is left at home with the baby (“I have no idea where he is; he could be anywhere”). And Rick’s journey shows him passing through desolate mountainscapes, licking a religious statue, being flagellated with palm fronds and taken advantage of by a charlatan who persuades him to trade his laptop for a rock. Even the brightly-attired mystics refer to him as an “idiot”.

The point of the story is imparted by the narrator: “Believing that a hungry soul is a restless soul, Rick chose to embark on a ‘spirit journey’ deep into the ancient Himalayas. Sadly, he was never seen again. Never let your soul go hungry.” This is voiced over a shot of Rick walking almost-naked into the snowy wasteland.

The final shot is of a ‘Rock-my-soul 3’, a new variant from Chicken Licken’s ‘Soul Food’.

MetropolitanRepublic TVC for Nando’s: “Blue Light Brigade”

The Nando’s ad is satire at its best, holding our country’s politicians up for ridicule with their propensity for police escorts.

In this scenario, four different ‘blue light brigades’ converge on each other in a leafy suburb. Even school-crossing guards are treated with contempt by escorts with their wailing sirens. All four cavalcades arrive at the same intersection simultaneously and, of course, none of the police escorts want to back down and let the other proceed. “I’ve got the Gauteng minister of fisheries here,” shouts the one, “You can’t just be passing.”

The situation degenerates with all the cops threatening each other with violence. “I’ll blow you!” the one yells at the other, and they all respond in kind.

Nando's: "Blue Light Brigades" TVC screengrabSuddenly, there is a loud bang! The battalion of cops hit the ground.

That’s when a taxi comes roaring through the scene, bypassing the mêlée by cutting across the sidewalk. The taxi backfires for a second time, its driver makes a gesture at the crazy sight he’s seen, and he roars off into the distance while the cops scramble for safety. The scene ends with the Nando’s logo, with the slogan, “Fire it up”.

Produced by MetropolitanRepublic, with new executive creative director Gareth Lessing and creative directors Tim Beckerling and Sean Harrison at the helm, the ad continues Nando’s tradition of poking fun at self-important people and officiousness in general. As there is no Gauteng minister of inland fisheries (duh — it is a landlocked province), there is no-one in particular who could take offence.

But, then again, it remains to be seen if it ruffles enough feathers to cause anyone from government to make a comment. If they do, it would be bonus publicity for Nando’s, as everyone knows the brand is all about pushing the limits. This ad manages to poke fun at police escorts, gormless-looking secret-service agents and taxi drivers, too.

Celebrating diversity

So forgive me for being ‘chicken’ by declaring this week’s competition a tie. There’s just too much that’s good about both of them.

Whether you like your chicken crispy fried or flame-grilled, here’s to celebrating SA’s diversity, and our ability to laugh at ourselves.

Oresti PatriciosAd of the Week, published on MarkLives every Wednesday, is penned by Oresti Patricios (@orestaki), the CEO of Ornico, a Brand Intelligence® firm that focuses on media, reputation and brand research.

If you are involved in making advertising that is smart, funny and/or engaging,
please let Oresti know about it at

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