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Smile‚ this is the rainbow nation‚ ad watchdog tells angry white man

Image: 123RF/ mansum007

Making fun of whites’ struggle to pronounce words such as “Mpumalanga” is not racist‚ says the advertising watchdog.

An Eskom radio ad that poked fun at coloured‚ black‚ white and Indian accents drew a complaint from listener Andre Stuart‚ who was offended by a jab at the white male’s pronunciation.

He said the commercial was unlawful based on race as it asserted that “white people do not know how to pronounce Mpumalanga”.

But the Advertising Standards Authority said Stuart had had a sense of humour failure. “The fact of the matter is that many first-language English and Afrikaans speakers do struggle with the ‘mp’ sound‚ and the result is amusing to other groups‚” the ASA directorate said in its ruling.

“To highlight this is in a humorous way is not offensive or discriminatory.”

The advertisement‚ which aired in March on East Coast Radio in KwaZulu-Natal‚ said: “Like a plumber needs a crack‚ ag sies man [a coloured male accent imitated]. Like a politician needs a struggle accent‚ actually [a black male politician accent imitated].

“Like a tea cup needs a doily [a white woman accent imitated]. Like white people need to know it’s not Maphumalanga‚ but Mpumalanga [a white male accent imitated]. Like Zulus need to be told‚ Lalela la‚ it’s not Limpompo but Limpopo (a Zulu male accent imitated). Like real bunny chow needs cold toilet and all‚ right! (an Indian male accent imitated).”

The voice-over then states: “Like we in Mzansi need electricity. Electricity proudly brought to you by Eskom.”

Eskom said the commercial was meant to be parody and satire‚ and the company’s campaign strategy included radio commercials with “humorous‚ yet exaggerated imitations of the South African population or the rainbow nation”.

The “intention was to use satire and humour while educating South Africans about the value of electricity”‚ according to the ASA ruling.

It said the humour in the commercial was “blatantly clear” as one voice artist imitated all the accents.

“If the commercial is racist or indeed discriminatory as alleged by [Stuart]‚ it would mean that it discriminates against almost all races in South Africa.”

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