There is a new look to South African ads and we are seeing more of it every day. The neon, the ‘poverty porn’, the #’s, the coloured smoke bombs, the fetishised African tribalism – I think we can all agree – it all looks the same.
We had to ask: Is this how we are selling things now?
In developing the concept for our most recent ad, we wanted to start a conversation about the recurring trend many have noticed in the advertising space: the surplus of Afrofuturism adverts brands are using to market to young people.
We wanted to address the current portrayal of what has become a stereotypical and singular view of ‘Africanness’, and to drive the sentiment that there is more than just one flavour to South Africa. Whilst making the ad, we uncovered over 40 examples of what we’ve termed ‘Afrotising’ produced in the last three years.
We think it’s great that brands are moving away from international culture and celebrating our African identity, but this identity has many faces, and we need courage to explore them. It takes a lot of pluck to start these conversations, but when we do it with the intention of sharing sentiments instead of being controversial, we find that South Africans have more to say. It’s not surprising that the advert brought about a host of other burning questions like: why do we market things this way? What does it mean? Do we lack creativity? Is there a single South African identity?
We love the aesthetic of African creativity and storytelling. It’s beautiful and rightly celebrated, but packaging it and offering one single view of what it means to be African is counterproductive.
Nando’s prides itself on being a brave brand that has grown alongside South Africa’s young democracy. We understand that South Africa faces important constitutional and democratic challenges, but as a nation we are characteristically good natured and handle things the South African way. Being proudly South African, we take pride in joining conversations and sparking debate around all relevant topics that are in the public interest. Often this discourse involves leaders, individuals and organisations that threaten the hard-won freedom we enjoy as a country today and are therefore not free from public scrutiny.
We go out of our way not to be controversial as this implies a sense of division, and frankly what we need as a country now is less division and more honesty around our collective challenges. We’re delighted that our advertising (like our chicken) has been enjoyed by the majority of South Africans.