JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Fast-food chain Nando's is known here for its provocative ads.
Polygamy, big breasts, Robert Mugabe, the government's refusal to issue the Dalai Lama a visa — all have been fodder for print and TV campaigns promoting the South Africa-based peri-peri chicken purveyor.
But the latest Nando's ad, on the subject of xenophobia, has been swiftly banned by South African public and private TV channels, which apparently viewed it as a step too far.
"You know what's wrong with South Africa?" asks the commercial, titled "Diversity."
"All you foreigners" is the answer, spoken over a scene of presumed Zimbabwean migrants sneaking across the South African border, only to be disappeared in a puff of smoke and told to "go back to where you came from."
The ad proceeds to vaporize all "foreigners," from Congolese, Kenyans and Indians to Afrikaners, Sothos and Vendas, until all that is left is one Khoisan bushman, who says to the camera: "I'm not going anywhere. You *$&!#* found us here."
"Real South Africans love diversity," the voiceover says, promoting new items on Nando's "diverse" menu.
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The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) refused to air the ad, with spokesman Kaizer Kganyago telling the Cape Times that it would incite attacks on foreigners.
"Nando's may say that it is trying to promote diversity but what we are concerned about is that the public might interpret it differently," Kganyago said.
Satellite provider DStv, as well as privately owned channels e.tv and M-Net, said they would stop airing the ad because the message could be "misinterpreted."
Monde Twala, e.tv's head of channels, told Channel24 that the ad "trivialized xenophobia, which remains a sensitive and volatile issue in South Africa."
Xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa made international headlines in 2008, when 62 people died in a series of riots that started in a Johannesburg township. Violence against migrants has continued, including murders of Somali shopkeepers.
The South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) said this week that the government must tackle the xenophobia problem.
“Maybe poking fun at it is a good way of getting people to talk about it and re-engage with the issue," the institute's Lucy Holborn told Eyewitness News.
Nando's said in a statement to news website Timeslive: "The advertisement is aimed at addressing a social ill and our approach is one that seeks to have South Africans take a stand against these prejudices by encouraging them to embrace the diverse inhabitants of our land."
Last year, Nando's was forced to pull an ad called "Last Dictator Standing," featuring a Robert Mugabe impersonator frolicking with look-alikes of dead dictators, after receiving threats by a notorious youth militia loyal to Zimbabwe's president.
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