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#OrchidsandOnions: Cheeky Chicken Licken

South Africa's advertising restrictions at times make the draconian coronavirus lockdown regulations look like the rules for a children's tea party.

We have an advertising regulatory system where one complaint (yes, that is correct, one out of 57 million people) can be enough to have a multimillion-rand ad campaign banned. If Bheki Cele wasn’t the big bwana of the police, he’d make a good ad regulator…

One of the companies which has felt the sting of that is Chicken Licken, whose fast-food clientele is overwhelmingly black. Last year, an expensive ad campaign was ordered to be pulled after the regulator found that a single complainant was justified in his feelings of anger that the “Big John” TV ad glorified colonialism.

I hope that the fried chicken franchise doesn’t end up in a similar predicament because of its latest ad, which could be classed by the nitpickers as “comparative advertising”, something which the closed old boys’ club of South African advertising did decades ago.

The reason why the famous BMW “Beats the Benz” ad from the early 1990s was only flighted over a weekend and withdrawn on the Monday was because Mercedes would no doubt have gone to the then Advertising Standards Authority to complain about its brand being disparaged by their fellow Germans.

In saying that I hope Chicken Licken doesn’t end up again being dragged before the Advertising Regulatory Board of South Africa. I would point out that I have not always been a fan of the brand and some of its business methods. Included in those were registering the common phrase “soul food” and legally intimidating anyone using a phrase only vaguely similar to it.

However, these days, Chicken Licken is quite often taking the place of Nando’s in the cheeky ad stakes. And both brands have been taking potshots at the elephant in the fast food room, KFC (or Kentucky Fried Chicken to give it its correct name).

The latest expensive dip at KFC from Chicken Licken is actually quite clever and amusing.

Chicken Licken’s ad agency, Joe Public, shot their spot in small town Kentucky, home of KFC, the brand made famous by Colonel Sanders. They cheekily put up a billboard, showing the ridiculously low prices (in US dollars that is) of their South African EasyBucks special meal combos.

Then they chatted to the locals about it … and found them disbelieving that anyone, anywhere, could sell a fried chicken meal for so little.



It’s earthy, it’s real and it makes the point that even in Kentucky, “everyone’s talking about it” (the Chicken Licken deal, no doubt).

It gets an Orchid for Chicken Licken, for Joe Public and for production house Burley Boys and its director, Katlego Baaitse. And now’s the perfect time to be running it because we need something to take our imprisoned minds off you-know-what…

From awesome to abysmal in one amateurish video.



The Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, along with the Water Research Commission, decided out of the goodness of their hearts (and the fatness of the tender, no doubt) to make a public service video featuring a cluster of alleged South African singing talent.

It is also stingingly ironic that the Department, which has singularly failed in its mandate to deliver clean water to South African citizens – and has been dogged by plenty of claims of inefficiency, never mind corruption – should be preaching to people without access to water that they should wash their hands.

If it weren’t for Cyril Ramaphosa and Zweli Mhkize, one might be tempted to change the name of Union Buildings to Comedy Central…

So, an Onion to the department of human settlements, water and sanitation, along with the Water Research Commission. Next time, use the money to buy more water tanks for informal settlements…

Note that Bizcommunity do not share the views of its contributors. The opinions and statements expressed herein are solely those of the author.

About Brendan Seery

Brendan Seery has been in the news business for most of his life, covering coups, wars, famines - and some funny stories - across Africa. Brendan Seery's Orchids and Onions column ran each week in the Saturday Star in Johannesburg and the Weekend Argus in Cape Town. Contact him now on moc.liamg@4snoinodnasdihcro
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