When you put together an ad or campaign which claims that “everyone is talking” about your product, you better make sure you can back that up. Chicken Licken and its ad agency, Joe Public, have done just that with their latest work promoting the fried chicken franchise’s Easy Bucks deals. That’s because, allowing for anecdotal and dispstick research, a lot of people are talking about the ads – both people in the ad business and ordinary civilians. And it’s been positive. That’s because, as they have done time and again, Chicken Licken have brought humour to the table along with...
When you put together an ad or campaign which claims that “everyone is talking” about your product, you better make sure you can back that up.

Chicken Licken and its ad agency, Joe Public, have done just that with their latest work promoting the fried chicken franchise’s Easy Bucks deals. That’s because, allowing for anecdotal and dispstick research, a lot of people are talking about the ads – both people in the ad business and ordinary civilians. And it’s been positive.

That’s because, as they have done time and again, Chicken Licken have brought humour to the table along with delicious chicken.

So what the creatives at Joe Public did – working with the team from Giant Films – is take film and TV scenes familiar to millions of people and insert the Chicken Licken pitch into them.

It works because it is not something you’d expect … as the starving Chicken Licken fan doesn’t, when he discovers that every time he changes the channel on his TV, there’s another show with another Chicken Licken message. The take-offs range from local soapies to international dramas and science fiction.

And, in a country where the hot air from our politicians could roast millions of chickens, the producers were unable to resist putting words in the mouth of a politician…

The commercial messages stick in the mind: chicken is the last thing you’d expect a wounded soldier and his comrade to be discussing, for example.

And, once again Chicken Licken and Joe Public are performing something of a badly-needed civic duty … giving us something to chuckle about. And heaven knows, we need a lot more of that in this country right now.

So, Orchids all round – to Chicken Licken, Joe Public and Giant Films. Now that’s the kind of advertising I expect from the creatives in this country.

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It has been said many times, by many experts, that, if you are in a position of authority or responsibility, you need to be very careful how you use social media, because your opinion becomes, whether you like it or not, associated directly with the company or brand you represent.

For someone who has often styled himself as one of this country’s first digital natives, I would have thought that Jarred Cinman, head of VMLY&R, would have realised this by now.

This week, he got himself into an almighty storm of the brown stuff on Twitter with his weapons-grade virtue signalling on the problem of race inequality in South Africa.

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He Tweeted: “White people make up 9% of the population but 66% of top management in business. That’s the answer next time the IRR (Institute for Race Relations) mafia try to argue that race is irrelevant.”

Cinman, if he was aware of the aphorism of the dangers of people living in glass houses throwing stones, ignored it. But the people he annoyed didn’t. And it didn’t take them long to post a screenshot of the VMLY&R website, showing a wonderful collection of about 20 people on the team there – all of them (or most of them) looking particularly lily white.

When that was thrown out there, Cinman responded: “You guys are so smart. Wow. Our management team is too white. I agree. When did I say that we were an exception to the problem I am highlighting? The difference is I am not proud of it or saying it’s ok. I’m working every minute of every day to change it. What are you doing?”

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Way to go, Jarred … from alienating some conservative whites, to showcasing your own hypocrisy to effectively telling your (white) team you’re not proud of them and want to get rid of them as soon as possible. That’s bound to have a positive impact on morale and productivity.

Just as an aside here: this company was not formed yesterday. So there cannot be any excuse for not having more black people in top echelons. Yet, I would bet my house he and his choms wring their hands regularly and say: “There just aren’t any talented, capable black people out there, you know, bru…”

The point is that as head of a company you have a duty to your employees, your shareholders, your clients (and their customers) to avoid upsetting any of them and avoid making statements in public which could be construed as bringing your organisation into disrepute. You cannot divorce your business persona from your personal one.

And, fair enough, if you want to be the white knight riding to eliminate whiteness, and you believe you have the support of your staff, clients, shareholders etc, carry on. And you’re happy to deal with a possible conservative boycott of all the brands you are associated with.

But, in marketing terms, this kind of grandstanding – and that is what it is – poses very real risks to a commercial operation. And anything which damages a brand gets an Onion (it will be a red one, Jarred, because, dude, you gotta keep moving away from white…)

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Brendan Seery.

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