The South African fast food chicken chain Nando’s (which has of late also become very popular in Britain) has always been known for their good adverts. They usually manage to combine a quick-off-the-mark, topical sense of the news with a particularly South African brand of wit and irony. Take for instance their ads featuring Julius Malema last year, which made the ANC Youth League so angry they called for its withdrawal (Julius, on the other hand, just wanted Nando’s to pay him).

But I’m not sure their latest ad (see the clip above) hits the mark.

Tapping into the foreign interest in South African culture around the upcoming football World Cup, it is ostensibly aimed at satirising the stereotypes that overseas visitors to the country might bring along with them. The desire to see ‘authentic Africa’ (so clearly portrayed in the spate of ridiculous ads now emerging on TV screens around the world) is clearly lampooned by the caricature of a hapless white guy in ‘ethnic’ dress. He is making fun of the old colonial trope of bare-breasted African women who was of course always stared at and photographed purely for anthropological reasons.  So far, so satire.

But is it just me, or is there a point where the audience is invited to slip into his point of view, when the gaze moves from the stereotypical white pervert as an object of ridicule, to indeed step into its own pitfall of seeing the topless women as sexualized objects? For some reason it seems as if the satirical tone is not sustained all the way through, and the ad starts to become cheesy instead of funny. Or perhaps all those European football ads of empty savannahs have just clouded my judgement?

What do you think?

Herman Wasserman