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With Black Birds And Body Parts, Nando's Chickens Might Just Come Home To Roost

01/04/2016 8:15 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
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General view of a Nando's branch in central London.

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Honestly speaking, I'm not surprised that international food chain Nando's has gotten into a bit of a sticky situation with their advertisements. Not only is the latest print ad sexist (of "we don't mind if you touch our breasts, our buns, or even our thighs" fame), it is really, really tasteless. Much like the bird the eatery serves. But then again, I don't really expect all that much from a chain that has a charred piece of poultry as a mascot!

A few months ago, on my way to dinner with close friends, I saw some kids attacking what looked like a chicken. As I got closer, I realised that it wasn't actually a chicken but a person inside a chicken suit. Yes, my eyesight is that bad apparently!

Have you ever seen a black chicken before? It was a cross between a gigantic rooster, chicken and crow... Could give anyone nightmares really.

A few of the kids were poking the chicken while two others kept pulling at its tail feathers. A third infant (in the arms of a maid) was pointing at the oversized bird and howling incessantly. The bird was cornered!

If you are wondering whether the disciplinarian mother inside of me whacked some sense into the naughty kids at once and called their parents out (from somewhere inside the restaurant busy stuffing their mouths) to complain, let me tell you that I didn't. I simply stood there and stared.

Why? I'll tell you why.

Have you ever seen a black chicken before? Well, to be quite honest, I hadn't. It was a cross between a gigantic rooster, chicken and crow. With a red heart, red comb on its head and an abnormal red plume-like tail. This rather bizarre oversized bird walked around on its skinny legs doing a little bop once in a while. Could give anyone a nightmare really. I'm not surprised that the kids were harassing it, the poor baby frightened out of its wits. They had never seen anything like it either.

If you want to make a mark in a new market, you should customize your logo along with your food... If McAloo can do it, why can't you?

While I think it's a great idea for restaurants to have their food parading around in suits, as a lure for customers, a black chicken is a very bad idea. In India at least. Truck drivers would attest to that! Buri Nazar Wale and all that. I honestly believe that international food chains should rethink their branding when they set up shop in this country. If you want to make a mark in a new market, you should customize your logo along with customizing your food for the local palate. If McAloo can do it, why can't you?

Many bird breeders indicate that some varieties of chicken that are black in colour are known for the superior, gamey quality of meat and eggs. Be that as it may, a black chicken on my plate is not a particularly appetizing thought! What do you think?

And, if you do have a black chicken parading around your restaurant in a bid to sell flame-grilled food, you may actually scare customers away. People aren't familiar with flame-grilled food in India. People identity with tandoori chicken and the reddish brown colour that characterizes it. Imagine all the questions in the customer's mind when they look at a black bird:

What in the hell's name is that?

Is it a crow? Is it a rooster? Is it a chicken?

Why is it black? Do they sell burnt food here?

The menu says it's flame grilled. Did the flame that grilled the bird get so hot that the bird is now char-grilled? Or let's say burnt to a crisp?

Black birds and body parts do not make good advertising. I don't know about you but it's put me off chicken forever.

Of course, I feel sorry for the person inside the bird suit. It might have well been his/her last evening at work!

I must clarify, however, that this is not a racist post. I have nothing against coloured birds. But you really need to rethink your strategy. Black birds and body parts do not make good advertising. I don't know about you but it's put me off chicken forever.

Bon appétit?

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