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By Amanda Watson

News Editor

No chickening out for ‘Big John’ advertiser

Chicken Licken's 'Legend of Big John' advertisement has been canned by the Advertising Regulatory Board, but the fast food chain will appeal.

Chicken Licken will be appealing the Advertising Regulatory Board’s (ARB) decision to can its Legend of Big John advertisement following a complaint.

Amber Mackeurtan of Joe Public United, which made the advert, said: “… the decision contradicts the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court.

“The public response has been overwhelming, this is literally the one comment which has resulted in a ruling against us.”

Still available on YouTube yesterday, the video had 100 000 hits and 801 “likes”. It tells the story of Big Mjonana leaving South Africa in 1650, having a few adventures and landing up on a beach in Holland, where, after planting his spear in the quay, he names Europe.

According to the ARB, the complainant “submitted the commercial makes a mockery of the struggles of the African people against the colonisation by the Europeans in general, and the persecutions suffered at the hands of the Dutch in particular”.

ARB chief executive Gail Schimmel said questions of offence would never be decided on numbers alone.

“For the ARB directorate, the issue we faced was whether colonialism and its legacy can ever be fodder for parody,” said Schimmel. “We felt not.”

She said the ARB board had received “a very brief response”.

“Perhaps on appeal, a more thorough argument will be presented,” Schimmel said.

The board found the “colonisation of Africa and her people was traumatic”.

“While the commercial seeks to turn the colonisation story on its head with ‘Big John’ travelling to Europe, it is well-known that many Africans were, in fact, forced to travel to Europe in the course of the colonisation of Africa. They did not leave their countries and villages wilfully; they starved to death during those trips to Europe; and arrived there under harsh and inhumane conditions,” the finding read.

Schimmel noted broadcasters were bound to the ARB decisions by the Electronic Communications Act.

“While the advertiser is not happy with our decision, all early indications are that as an ethical advertiser they intend to comply with the ARB process while they lodge an appeal.”


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