A TV spot for Nando's South Africa, which shows six of the world's most feared and despised dictators at play, has led to calls for a boycott of the chicken chain.
As he lays out the name cards at a formal state banquet, Mr. Mugabe dreams of all the fun he could have with his dictator friends. We see him having a water-gun fight with Muammar Gaddafi, making sand angels with Saddam Hussein, singing karaoke with Chairman Mao, and playing on the swings with South Africa's notorious P.W. Botha. With Idi Amin, he plays at being Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslett, using a tank instead of the Titanic as they recreate a famous scene from the movie.
Chipangano, a Zimbabwean militant youth group loyal to President Mugabe, has urged people to boycott the restaurant chain, according to Zimbabwean state radio. Ahmed Tilly, CEO and executive creative director of WPP-backed Black River FC, said, "All I know is that Nando's South African and Zimbabwean teams are in talks. I would imagine it's a fragile situation. We were expecting some form of resistance from sections of the Zimbabwean community."
The ad, called "Last dictator standing," is set to Mary Hopkin's nostalgic 1960s tune, "Those were the days." It promotes a special offer on meals for six, and finishes with the voiceover saying, "This time of year, no one should have to eat alone. So get a Nando's six-pack meal for six."
An accompanying competition by the South Africa-based restaurant chain offered three prizes of a festive meal for the winner and five friends, cooked by a chef at their homes. To win, contestants have to tweet the name of five people -- dead or alive -- whom they would love to have dinner with.
In the U.K., however, the ad was viewed with humor. Harry Cole, a journalist with influential political website Guido Fawkes, tweeted, "Loving this spectacularly inappropriate yet hilarious Nando's ad."
Mr. Tilly said, "The Nando's brand bases its communications on social commentary. Last year we did a topical parody on local cellphone providers, which got a lot of press and a lot of sales. This year Nando's asked us to do something similar, so we looked at what 2011 was most famous for, which gave us the theme of toppled dictators."