Is Nando’s ‘Last Dictator Standing’ the new ‘Old Spice guy’?

2011-11-30 00:00

I’VE been watching the Nando’s Meal for 6 campaign with interest ever since it broke. The wickedly funny ad featuring Robert Mugabe­ and his happy memories of good times with fellow dictators (including P. W. Botha) is racking up the kind of international attention unheard of for South African ad campaigns. Already it appears to enjoy the kind of cult appeal typically associated with the Old Spice campaigns of this world.

This is one of the best examples I’ve seen yet of a social media campaign built around a specific piece of content, specifically a TV ad. Here’s why — from my point of view — it works so well.

Great content

The best web campaigns are built around great content — usually video and almost always the kind of material that gets people laughing. That was why the Old Spice campaign became such a hit, and it’s at the root of the success of the Nando’s campaign too.

At the time of writing, the “Last Dictator Standing” ad has been viewed over 400 000 times on YouTube. It’s one of those rare ads that’s both laugh-out-loud funny and deeply resonant in a year in which we have seen so many dictators tumble, like latter-day Humpty Dumpties, from their walls (with one notable exception, of course). This appeal to international politics means that it has global appeal, which is why Time, Huffington Post and BoingBoing have blogged about it. This is also why another successful viral South African ad from this year, the Loerie Awards ad with Riaan Cruywagen, could never have enjoyed the same global appeal, it was too culturally specific.

Simple concept

The website, executed by Retroviral Digital Communications, is very simple. You watch the ad and the copy tells you how to enter the competition. Cleverly, the company has used Twitter as the entry mechanism — all you need to do is tweet #Mealfor6 and the guests you’d like to invite and you’re eligible. “Too many digital guys overcomplicate mechanics,” says Retroviral’s Mike Sharman. Twitter, he says, suited the format of the promotion and supported the business objectives of the campaign. The promotion ends on December 2, so it’s short and sweet and focused, with less chance of audiences getting bored and moving on.

The bottom line

This isn’t a brand ad to raise awareness, it’s essentially a product and price ad aimed at driving feet into store. There were big question marks about whether the Old Spice campaign actually increased product sales, but it’s hard to imagine that this ad won’t show results for Nando’s. And all the PR hype means Nando’s will be getting great bang for its advertising buck.

Clever seeding

The campaign was given the best chance of success by seeding it with a range of bloggers and influencers on the day it broke, with 50 co-ordinated drops in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

You can’t force a campaign to go viral — people either like what they see and want to pass it on, or they don’t — but you can give it every possible chance.

So, great content + simple execution + link to sales + clever seeding = a superb campaign, probably the best one South Africa’s seen to date. At a time when everyone seems to be mired in gloom, it’s refreshing to see an ad that takes on a controversial subject and gets us to laugh.

Whatever your feelings about Nando’s peri-peri chicken, it is the South African advertiser with the longest and most consistent history of taking on political subjects and satirising them in 30 seconds. It did go through a lean patch in the 2000s but it seems to have its mojo back. In a funny way, if the Nando’s Meal for 6 campaign demonstrates anything, it’s that social media is the best thing ever to happen to the 30- second TV ad. “It’s been amazing to watch,” says Retroviral’s Mel Attree. “The spread has been amazing to watch, but we have great content to work with — it makes our job so much easier.” —

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