Nando’s – Not A Fanando

Can I just shock you? I don’t like Nando’s.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the two blokes behind the concept are absolute miracle workers. Up there with the David Blaines and Dynamos of this world, they’ve wittingly managed to dupe millions of people into thinking that it’s ok to pay the best part of a Pavarotti (tenner) for what is effectively, chicken and chips.

And I admire the way in which they’ve done it too. They’ve created a story that everybody has bought into. Behind every great brand is a story and this one is that of peri peri chicken. The bird’s eye chilli or pili pili was introduced to the Portuguese settlers by the Native Africans. Finding it a bit of a mouthful to say, they renamed it peri peri and began adding it to all of their food. And in the same way that the Africans shared it with the Portuguese, Nando’s shares it with the world. With over a thousand restaurants globally Nando’s now has a righteous place in the top 30 of worldwide brands.

What Nando’s does best is empower the customer. Chicken the way you like it: You pick your marinade; you get your drink; you grab your cutlery; hey you can even choose your Nando’s sauce. So you’re doing most of the work and paying for the privilege. But for some reason, that’s good. That’s what you like.

And in making you the protagonist of this story it has created a formidable brood of PR battery hens that spread the word on its behalf. How many people do you know that tweet or update their Facebook status about going for a “cheeky” Nando’s as if it’s a visit to one of the world’s wonders? And it’s not just the uneducated or people of a certain social status – we’re talking everybody, from all walks of life. Poor people, lay people, well-to-do people, celebrity people and some very affluent people that have no doubt eaten in some of the world’s finest and most expensive restaurants. I’m beginning to think I’m the only kind of people that doesn’t get it.

We all have our foibles and indulge in a guilty pleasure. It might be a secret visit to some well known fast food joint in the hope of beating a horrific hangover. It might be that fish finger butty you ate one evening when there was no-one else around. It might be that whole tub of Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough you had to finish in fear of it defrosting on the walk back to the freezer. But Nando’s has been ingrained in the public psyche as the go-to place to indulge your food fantasies without any sense of remorse. If anything, it’s quite the opposite…..You just have to tell someone about it. The irony of this piece is that I too, have fallen foul of the Nando’s infectious, yet effortless PR machine. I may not like it, but I’m still talking about it. It makes me sick. Good job I’ve got this bucket from last night’s KFC.

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