Shaken & Stirred - Influential Brand Profiling and Positioning

“Advert banned before we even see it, something is fishy here!”

South Africa’s state broadcaster ‘pulled Zuma fish and chips advert’   Watch the banned ad here.

Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

The BBC may be mired in scandal and riven by internal mistrust, but it could take a crumb of comfort from not being the only state broadcaster making headlines for the wrong reasons. South Africa‘s 76-year-old public network, the SABC, is also staggering through its fair share of crises, notably the charge of political interference by the governing African National Congress (ANC).

The issue may not quite be at the Jimmy Savile level, but it reared its unpretty head again on Tuesday with reports that the SABC had banned a TV commercial for fish and chips because it was offensive to President Jacob Zuma.

The animated advertisement begins with the words “Dinner time at Nkandla” above the image of a mansion – a reference to Zuma’s private residence, where taxpayer-funded security upgrades caused a scandal that refuses to go away.

Then we go indoors and meet a woman sitting at the end of an extraordinarily long dining table lined with children and several other women. It should be remembered that Zuma has four wives and 21 children.

The woman says in Zulu: “Oh Zuzulicious, we’re having fish and chips from Shabba [footballer Siphiwe Tshabalala, who promotes the meal] today.”

The cartoon Zuma responds: “Eat up honey bunch, there is a lot of good food here. It’s from the Fish and Chip Company. There are many of you in this house, at only R25 (£1.76) even Pravin [Gordhan, the finance minister] will approve this.”

According to the Star newspaper, the ad was supposed to be shown on SABC on Monday nights until February, but was dropped just two hours before it was due to run. The paper quoted Paul Warner, the creative director at advertising agency MetropolitanRepublic Group, as saying the SABC had told it the commercial was dropped because it was “degrading to the president”.

“They said our [SABC] bosses have made the decision not to flight it,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’ve never had an ad be banned before it was even aired.”

SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago told the Star he was not aware of the ad or any SABC officials ordering it not to be aired.

This is not an isolated case for the SABC, which still has a far greater reach in South Africa than subscription-based TV channels and is therefore crucial to the ANC’s support base. Recently there have been suggestions of editorial meddling aimed at denying Zuma’s arch enemy, the former ANC youth league president Julius Malema, the oxygen of publicity.

It was also reported that the SABC’s head of news forbade journalists covering the Nkandla row from using the terms “Nkandlagate” or “Zumaville” that have become widespread in independent media.


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