The fire behind Nando’s brazen ads

The brand takes pride in joining in conversations and sparking debate around topical issues


The Nando’s brand is known for always pushing boundaries with creative adverts that usually explore topical issues. Whenever a landmark decision is made or serious issues land on the national agenda, the restaurant chain shines a light upon them with creative ads, setting tongues wagging and taste buds for more aflame.

In an interview, the marketing manager of the Nando’s brand, Maipelo Moatshe, does not hesitate to say the inspiration behind the company’s marketing strategy is that Nando’s is by nature an irreverent brand that has grown to be the voice of the people across various topics. “The adverts are to engage with the public on topics that are of interest to most,” she explains. “Nando’s Botswana makes use of creative agencies and its own employees to brainstorm and execute.”

The popular chicken outlet releases its provocative adverts at lightning speed, striking while the iron is still hot to explore local, as well as international issues that are relevant to Batswana. This swift response to current affairs is one of the powerful tools the brand uses to create a memorable, conversation-starting marketing presence at just the funny, tragic or perplexing moment.
For instance during the country’s last general elections in October 2014, the company closed down its restaurants to encourage people to go out and cast their votes. “Sorry, time to heat up the polls,” was the cheeky advertising phrase. And then there was that ad to support local artist Tshepiso ‘Kast’ Molapise’s initiative of “Tlatsa Lebala” right in the heat of the moment back in 2017. Much to the delight of Batswana who were proud to have filled up the National Stadium for an all local lineup, the Nando’s ad, ever brazen, had taunted: “Don’t be an outKAST. Itlatse.”

Moatshe said: “The adverts are produced in less than 24 hours. Our ‘voice of the people’ advertisements are purely to interact with customers. The aim is not so much to increase sales as it is to get conversations started or contribute to an ongoing one.”

Because Nando’s adverts are witty and enticing, the brand has often had to deal with fakes created in their likeness. After the landmark decriminalisation of homosexuality in Botswana by the High Court recently, an ad purporting to be from Nando’s speaking to the issue of same sex relationships in quite a derogatory fashion trended online. Ever alert, Moatshe was quick to dismiss it as a hoax but emphasizes that the company’s creatives do not fear backlash from their provocative stance. And they do have boundaries they won’t breach, she notes, an example being religion.