chicken licken big john ad

(Photo: Chicken Licken / Screenshot / YouTube)

Chicken Licken: Why the popular “Big John” advert has been banned in SA

The “Big John” commercial will be pulled from the air following a lengthy complaint about its content. Needless to say, Chicken Licken aren’t happy.

chicken licken big john ad

(Photo: Chicken Licken / Screenshot / YouTube)

No more “Big John” on our TV screens, then. Chicken Licken have been forced to pull their most recent ad from the airwaves, after the Advertising Regulations Board (ARB) upheld a complaint about its “offensive narrative”.

The ad – which was released at the same time as the new Nandos campaign and proved to be just as popular – features a black South African (Big John) travelling to Europe in the 1600s. He arrives in The Netherlands, with plans to colonise the land and he greets startled onlookers with the phrase “hola maNgamla”, which translates to “hello white people”.

Why the Chicken Licken advert has been banned

A vast majority of South Africans appreciated the “reverse colonialism” humour, but the content proved too much for complainant Sandile Cele, who stated that the commercial “made a mockery” of the struggle against colonialism. Cele also claimed it trivialises the actions of Dutch settlers back in 1652. The ARB ended up agreeing with him:

“The legacy of colonisation, which is a sensitive and divisive topic, is one that is not open for humorous exploitationˊno matter how amusing some people may find the end result.”

“The directorate is of the view that the Respondent’s commercial trivialises an issue that is triggering and upsetting for many South African people. The commercial therefore contravenes the provisions of Section 1 of Section II of the Code.”


What next for Chicken Licken?

The regulatory board now require Chicken Licken to withdraw the advert in its current format, effective immediately. The clip will not be allowed to air again without significant changes. However, given that the colonialism theme runs throughout the entirety of the ad, it’s unlikely we will even see an edited version on our screens.

Of course, the eatery has strongly disagreed with these findings. Chicken Licken have defended their rights to express tongue-in-cheek humour, and believe their ad is actually a “proud and patriotic” attempt to uplift the South African spirit. You can watch the now-banned commercial here.