Regulators in South Africa have banned a TV commercial that depicts a black man discovering a foreign land in the 17th century and naming it Europe.
Fast-food restaurant Chicken Licken on Friday was ordered to “withdraw the television commercial in its current format” and told it may not use the ad again, according to a ruling by the Advertising Regulatory Board of South Africa, a regulator comprised of industry professionals.
Chicken Licken, in response, said “it was regrettable” that the ad was met by negative reactions from consumers, adding it was not the company’s intention to “make a mockery of the struggles of colonization and its effects on Africa and her people.”
The commercial features a modern narrator — a customer at a Chicken Licken franchise — retelling the story of a black South African known as Big John, who leaves home in 1650 to sail around the world, as the video traces the narrator’s tale.
Big John overcomes various threats before landing in Holland, much to the obvious astonishment of its white inhabitants, the ad shows.
“Hola MaNgamla (Hello white folk). I like this place, I think I will call it … Europe,” Big John says, before sticking his spear into the ground.
The Advertising Regulatory Board ruled that the commercial “trivializes an issue that is … upsetting for many South African people.”
“Turning the usual colonization story around might be perceived as having a certain element of humor,” the board said. “The reality though is that colonization of Africa and her people was traumatic.”
The ad was still available days after the board’s ruling on YouTube.