Controversial viral Nando’s ad pulled for spoofing dictators

Jordan Chittley

Being alone during the holidays can be upsetting and that is why a fast food chain is taking steps with their six-piece chicken combo to make sure nobody has to eat alone - even ruthless dictators.

But the controversial Nando's commercial has attracted so much negative attention in Zimbabwe that the company has just announced they are pulling it.

Nando's, which is a South African company, but has franchises in 30 countries including Canada and the U.S., says they are going to stop running the ad after it "triggered perceived threats against its Zimbabwean management, staff and customers."

The commercial features Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe having a water gun fight with deceased Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi, making sand angels with deceased Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein, pushing former South African apartheid-era leader P.W. Botha on a swing and riding a tank with deceased Uganda President Idi Amin. In all scenes, they look like kids playing at recess, smiling ear to ear.

The commercial called "Last Dictator Standing", shows Mugabe reminiscing about old times with other dictators to the song Those Were the Days and when he stops day dreaming he is sitting at a large dinner table by himself. "This time of year, no one should have to eat alone so get a Nando's six-back meal," says a voice at the end of the ad.

The commercial was intended to poke fun at the fallen dictators, but Mugabe supporters are not amused and a militant youth group in Zimbabwe threatened to boycott the restaurant if they didn't pull the ad.

"The words that we kind of heard coming out of Zimbabwe that disturbed us were youth, militant youth, boycotting, and when you hear that kind of language you kind of escalate your concern to a different level," says Quinton Cronje, Nando's marketing director, to the Financial Times.

Under Zimbabwe law, it is an offence to insult Mugabe or undermine his authority.

This is not the first time Nando's has been at the centre of controversy for a commercial. In 2009, Nando's used a satirical puppet of a militant youth leader of South Africa's ruling African National Congress in an ad. The company pulled that one as well.