Got Brand Integrity? Good.
Don’t “Chicken” Out.

Posted on Monday, May 21st, 2012 by

In South Africa, the Nando’s food chain is legendary for two things: great Portuguese-style chicken; and the cheeky sense of humour often expressed in its ad campaigns.  They’re wildly popular for both.

Noting that South African Insurance firm Santam was airing their own rather clever series of television commercials featuring Ben Kingsley, Nando’s decided to spoof the corporate elegance of the Santam spots. Below are (with thanks to Patrick Collings’ Brand Architect blog*) the original Santam spot, the Nando’s spoof, and the “Back-at-ya” come-back by Santam, which was broadcast on YouTube:

The “Authenticity” in a Spoof
Nando’s accepted the challenge in the Santam come-back video, and upped the ante by agreeing to deliver a meal a month to the Johannesburg Children’s Home for a full year. And the day the challenge spot appeared, Nando’s and Santam became the top-trending most talked-about  brands on Twitter across South Africa.

The reason it all worked is that both brands displayed authenticity; they were true to themselves and behaved exactly as their communities expected. Nando’s, for all their tongue-in-cheek sophomoric humour, also have a social conscience. And on its side, Santam stayed within its brand character, never losing its cool and playing Nando’s own game with cerebral nonchalance, and a smart but sophisticatedly-humourous twist.

The Santam campaign was “integrated,” in that it used television, YouTube, Twitter and, ultimately, their own website ( But more importantly it was integrated in the fact that all aspects of the execution stayed true to the values of the brand: thoughtful intelligence, calm in the face of the unexpected, and a smart and timely follow-through. What was brilliant about the whole exchange, from a branding standpoint, is that the two marketing organizations were so thoroughly versed in their brand values that they seemed to instinctively know how to react in the moment with confidence and authenticity. And the end result is that they amused and strengthened each of their brand communities.

Can you think of Canadian brands with enough confidence in their authenticity to pull this off? Would it work with Canadian audiences? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Full disclosure: Blade has been a fan of Nando’s for years. We have worked on the brand in Canada to assist their expansion in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia. And… we love their chicken!

* This article was inspired by a posting in Brand Architect, the blog of Patrick Collings, managing partner at South African-based management consultancy Sagacite.


Posted in: Integrated Marketing
Tagged: ,

Patrick McGovern

About Patrick McGovern

Well versed in both traditional and digital brand-building strategies, Patrick is Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer at Blade Creative Branding Inc. He brings an insightful perspective to modern marketing challenges, and takes a lead role in the new media and digital marketing initiatives of the agency's clients.

  • Krisztina

    One Canadian Brand I could think of that always sticks to its guns is PC foods. I find that in all their initiatives they try to convey the same message: they provide healthy food and interesting variety for our families. What I also appreciate about PC is their ability to make the Brand seem approachable and authentic.

    • Patrick McGovern

      Yes, definitely. President’s Choice is one of those iconic Canadian brands that we feel almost patriotic about-although they never indulge in flag waving. It surprised many by surviving the departure of its original high-profile “president,” Dave Nichol; but it’s still going strong. Good example of a brand that constantly renews itself by monitoring what its community loves!

  • Sheila

    The spots are wonderful and hilarious! Your assessment of the power of their messaging thanks to authenticity, humour and social conscience is SPOT on. Brilliant!