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#OrchidsandOnions: Trevor Noah and KFC unravel the chicken conspiracy

If you're going to launch a habit-breaking product, then you better go big or go home...and that's obviously what KFC reasoned when it roped in Trevor Noah to be the face of its new Eat Chicken for breakfast campaign.
#OrchidsandOnions: Trevor Noah and KFC unravel the chicken conspiracy

A quintessential entertainer

Noah was already a great stand-up comedian when he went to take up the slot as host for the American TV programme The Late Show in 2015…but he flew to even greater heights, winning over fickle Americans to his brand of biting humour and satire.

In the process, he proved himself to be much more than just a funny guy, he showed he was the consummate entertainer.

As the lead character in the KFC ad, Noah is so relaxed and at home, he is the major reason why the execution – and its gags – work so well.

It’s premised on the “conspiracy theory” idea that “they” are, somehow, “hiding” something from “us” – at least those of us clever enough to see through the global “propaganda” and “manipulation” and who have done our “own research”.

This particular theory, as enunciated by Trevor, is that, in times past, people used to eat chicken, all the time, including for breakfast. Something, though, happened along the way and chicken “disappeared”.


Who was the culprit? Companies wanting you to eat cereal and bacon and eggs, he points out.

Then you see him expounding his theories to his breakfast companion: “Now, do you believe me?”

No, his mate says, it’s just chicken for breakfast, “and it’s delicious”.

The last line is echoing all over the Internet at present, and you hear it as Trevor shakes his head and tells him “Open your eyes…”

It’s funny, it’s current and, as with all good advertising, a reminder about the product…and it certainly does look like having chicken for breakfast is a good option.

So, Orchids to KFC and Ogilvy.

In last week’s Orchid, for fantastic use of design for Nestle’s decaf coffee, I was in the dark about the agency responsible. Happy to share that it was Prodigious/NestleOne which is part of the Publicis Groupe in SA. Jacques Shalom sent me some of the campaign’s other print executions and they are equally excellent.

Plagiarism is still theft

One of the negative aspects of the communication and information revolution occasioned by the explosion of the Internet is that many people thought – and many still believe – that because the technology is new, none of the old rules apply.

Sadly, it was the “legacy” media – that is newspapers – which made the biggest, life-ending mistakes 20 years ago, when the Net was in its infancy and companies like Google were still in nappies. Print companies thought that the new medium was not a threat – possible the biggest miscalculation in the history of business.

Somehow, it was thought that you could run a business where you asked one set of customers to pay for your product but gave away that same product for free to others. And, what the printed media, particularly, also did not do was clamp down on the theft of its material – material it had invested time and money in producing. Had companies like Google and Facebook and others been threatened with being sued back to the Stone Age for this conduct 25 years ago, the world might be a completely different place now.

Theft of copyrighted material is still an issue – as is the bald-face belief by thieves that they are doing nothing wrong. Such was the attitude of a Northern Cape publication, Hadeda News, when tackled about its lifting of an entire piece from a newspaper.

The response was: everyone does it. It’s in the public domain. We are doing this for our readers and for the Northern Cape, by promoting tourism.

Rampant piracy

After being forced to remove the piece and commit not to stealing material in future, the publication was unrepentant. And that is what is worrying…. a total lack of morality. Because this is not a victimless crime, much as the digirati might like to think it is.

Ultimately, once the “legacy media” has gone under because of this rampant piracy, you’re at the mercy of social media for your news. Good luck with that.

Because Hadeda News is produced by a company which calls itself an “advertising agency” and this is blatant misappropriation of someone else’s creative talent, it gets an Onion from me.

Just because you are living in cyberspace does not give you the right to bend or break society’s basic rules.

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.
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