TV – The Forgotten Promotion Medium (or “Watch this funny clip!”)

All kinds of new thingamajigs have filled-up the toolbox of marketing communication so that this business student had already regarded TV commercials as an enormous waste of money, and the medium itself as a has-been relic only able to reach the baby-boomers or other fuddy-duddies, who spend online less than 16 hours a day.

But nope. I was wrong. I probably misunderstood or only understood superficially Marshall McLuhan’s phrase “the medium is the message”.

Because this morning I lolled to this: Last Dictator Standing

It’s the season to gather together with one’s family and/or friends to enjoy a festive meal, but Robert Mugabe’s dinner guests have are all unable to attend. While collecting the last seating card, Robert reminisces the fun they had.

The medium is the subliminal message

Hold on a sec… I just found out about it from the Internet – the Disintegrator of TV. And the clip was not viewed with disinclination like an average TV-ad, but willingly in the form of a YouTube-clip. This is not TV promotion by any means!

Furthermore, Nando’s is a South-African franchise without any branches within the Schengen-zone. Nando’s is unlikely to receive a rand from the majority of approximately 400 million inhabitants, despite reaching them. Isn’t this sales promotion just a futile attempt?

…you might now wonder.

Point I am trying to make is not promoting Nando’s, but to explain why I just reverted my opinion about TV commercials in general.

I still hold on to my perception that although we twentysomethings were raised with by television, a large portion of us does not regularly watch live television, or own a TV-set at all. I suppose our demographic segment could be reached just as efficiently via other media, perhaps even better. Who has time for TV, when one is online every minute awake? What I watch, I record with my digital receiver, then skip all the commercials when watching.

Perhaps McLuhan’s meant in 1964 that the medium is a subliminal, hidden message. Even though facts never change, recipients’ perception does differ according to where or by whom the facts were stated. In reality, expressing one’s opinion on an acknowledged forum gives the message more credibility.

Investing to TV airtime is a lot more expensive than most online campaigns, so the speaker must be serious about the message or an esteemed figure to be able portray it on TV. Either this train of thought is widely although subconsciously recognised, or television is viewed as an authority; “some people believe anything they see on TV”. So TV’s subliminal message would be that this is meaningful.

Television & Digital Marketing

Last Dictator Standing got a jump-start to go viral, and that is exactly why TV spots should be produced. A lot more people are exposed to the TV campaign on its first running day than ever might be feasible with just by digital marketing tools.

Most importantly, though, it succeeded to go globally viral, because it was creative, entertaining, controversial and extremely topical. That’s why it created a buzz that spread from South Africa to Finland over a weekend.

The earliest post I found was on Nando’s YouTube-channel from Thursday 24th of November). Right the two versions on YouTube have together little more than 418 000 views. I wonder how fast that figure will grow, but sure enough, none of those showings costed a single rand more than the existing TV-campaign, but reached people otherwise unreachable and on a global scale; albeit somewhat unintentional.

So as it turned out, television commercials are not a waste of money, if used alongside with digital marketing. Only the clip itself has to be worth watching (and obviously relevant to the product; fulfilling its function as a sales promotion channel).

Credits to whom the credits are due for making that video:

More about the Nando’s campaign from here:

Nando’s website:


  1. fahmi says:

    Great round up of how traditional marketing coupled with digital marketing could have a more profound effect in not only getting the message across but also cheaper, faster and at scale.


  2. Anonymous says:

    What a crap! Dictator:))) What an idiot may believe that those countries will be better off after those guys in charge have gone?


  3. Louise says:

    The ad has been pulled – see BBC article at


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