Blind World Magazine

South Africa.
a blind boxer who runs into trees and evens the odds against sighted opponents by splashing peri-peri sauce into their eyes.

October 31, 2005.
Financial Mail, South Africa.

Lowe Bull MD Gillian Rightford is preparing for a fight over her agency's new campaign on behalf of Nando's. A central character is a blind boxer who runs into trees and evens the odds against sighted opponents by splashing peri-peri sauce into their eyes.

Nando's has already courted controversy in an earlier TV ad in which a blind man fell down an open manhole.

Rightford says she expects complaints about the new campaign, and is prepared to defend it at the Advertising Standards Authority.

After a five-way pitch for the account in July, the new Nando's campaign broke this week amid much industry expectation. Nando's is notorious for taking risks and the resultant hype often outstrips the value of the annual adspend - estimated at R15m.

Besides the blind boxer, the new campaign features a chicken-loving finger-puppeteer who eats one of his characters, and a pigeon fancier whose prize bird goes missing.

Rightford says the brief for the campaign was one of the toughest her agency has ever faced. Nando's marketers said the brand had grown up and had established a global presence. While corporate maturity had to be reflected, the famous irreverence had to remain. Furthermore, the old positioning of "a taste of Portugal" had to be replaced with a focus on the brand's special peri-peri sauce. Competitors have been moving into the Nando's menu space and many have their own variation of spicy chicken.

Rightford says the campaign relies on an "Afro-Portuguese mind-set" where peri-peri reigns. The style is "mock-umentary". In the blind-boxer ad, Lowe Bull has created a character who has never lost a fight - mainly because he eats Nando's before each bout, and the peri-peri gets onto his gloves and then into opponents' eyes. Parts of the commercial are certain to prompt complaints. On a training run, he has to be directed away from palm trees; and his trainer has to help him locate a punchball after the boxer flails away at thin air. Rightford hopes viewers will see the character as a hero rather than a victim.

All the ads were shot in Mozambique. The characters were found from the street and their endorsement of the product was often unscripted.

While the tone of the campaign is light-hearted, the objective isn't. According to the latest All Media Products Survey (Amps), nearly 9,5m South Africans buy fast food each month. About 1,5m people spend more than R100 on every visit. Fast-food brands spent R69m on TV advertising in 2004. That figure is already up to almost R110m this year. Wimpy is expected to launch a new campaign within the next few weeks.

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