Even if the Chicken Licken advert were offensive, regulators should allow it to air in a democratic, open and tolerant society. A Times Select report says this is the latest argument in the protracted legal battle to have the ‘colonialism’ advert unbanned.

Advocate Phumlani Ncgobo argued this on behalf of Chicken Licken and its advertising agency, Joe Public, in their third bid before Judge Bernard Ngoepe and three industry experts to have the ban reversed.

In the advert a Zulu man, Big Mjohnana, sets off in 1651 on a ‘fantastical’ journey and lands in a new country with a man looking like Jan van Riebeeck. Big Mjohnana names the place Europe.

The Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) withdrew the advert in December after a single complaint which said it made a mockery of the struggles of African people against colonialism.

The first appeal panel at the ARB upheld the ban. Industry players said the restriction had ruffled feathers in the advertising sector and Joe Public founder Pepe Marais said too much restriction ‘will take the essence out of the ad industry’.

Ncobo said: ‘The advertisement is not offensive. Even if it is offensive, to borrow the language of the Constitutional Court, it is the kind of offence in an open and democratic society such as ours … that ought to be tolerated.’

He said the advert did not cause harm, was clearly satirical, exaggerated and fictional. The advertising self-regulatory legal code allows satire and exaggeration.

Full Times Select report