It’s finally Election Day, and brands and agencies have been working around the clock on creative efforts to get people to the polls (and mailboxes) this year.
One of the more hands-on approaches comes from quick service restaurant Nando’s, which fooled customers into believing they would receive delicious meals when letting the kitchen decide what to feed them. Disappointed guests’ final takeaway: Don’t let someone decide for you … vote!
Nando’s, known for its “Peri-Peri chicken” at 1,200 restaurants around the world, with 43 located in the U.S., placed a new, purposefully vague, item on the menu at its Washington D.C. Dupont Circle eatery in the middle of October called “The unDemocratic Meal.” Signs in the restaurant’s windows and on its menu promised a “mystery meal” for $3 to “celebrate how great 2020 has been.”
Intrigued, customers ordered the meal and were told they could not choose what they wanted or even ask what was in it.
The customers found that the ‘unDemocratic’ mystery meals ended up being exceedingly questionable and unappetizing: One customer received two chocolate brownies served on a bed of rice, another was served a chicken burger minus the chicken and yet another was given carrot cake and cheesecake drizzled with spicy mayonnaise. Not exactly Instagram-worthy.
Of course, the game was finally up when Nando’s servers brought out red and blue napkins stating: “Don’t let someone else decide for you. Vote November 3.”
Customer reactions were filmed with five hidden cameras strategically placed around the restaurant. “Immensely disappointed,” says one customer, who was served a simple bowl of mashed potatoes. “Not only was it my un-favorite meal, it was a huge portion of my un-favorite meal.”
Nando’s has created a video featuring customer reactions that the brand is sharing across social media. The campaign was created internally at the company.
“We wanted to illustrate to customers what it feels like to let someone else choose for them. So we created a menu of unDemocratic Meals,” said John Fisher, CEO of Nando’s USA. “Get out there and vote and let your voice be heard. Participate in our great democracy. This election is way too important to let someone else decide for you.”
The stunt follows Nando’s other get-out-the-vote effort of “putting voter registration on its menu.” Starting at the end of September, customers visiting or ordering from Nando’s restaurants in Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia and Chicago, were able to order a voter registration form for free along with their meals. Nando’s is also handing out voter-resource flyers at its restaurants and in takeout bags, sending free catered meals to poll workers, and giving Nando’s employees paid time off and free transportation to go vote.
Sepanta Bagherpour, Nando’s chief brand officer, says that exercising the right to vote is part of the brand’s DNA, ever since the company first opened its doors in 1987 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
“At Nando’s, we care deeply about voting because we originated in South Africa. We were there in 1994 when millions of South Africans had their voices heard for the first time. Voting is a right and should never be taken for granted,” he says.