Fast food chain Nando’s has claimed responsibility for stealing North Queensland’s Big Mango tourist attraction earlier this week, in a PR stunt which has garnered global attention.
The 10-metre tall mango was taken from Bowen’s Visitor Information Centre in the early hours of Monday morning, leaving both local residents and people around the world wondering who had stolen the attraction.
The fate of the mango was unknown for over 24 hours, until yesterday afternoon Nando’s claimed responsibility for the stunt, posting a video on YouTube of the mango being taken away using a crane.
The mango is estimated at being worth around $90,000 and is just one of Australia’s many big attractions which include The Big Banana, The Big Mandarin and The Big Prawn.
In a statement on Nando’s website, the chain said it would like to thank the people of Bowen for “being good sports”.
“We promise we’re taking good care of it and it will be returned to its rightful position soon(ish),” Nando’s says.
“All will be revealed as to why we did it very soon… stay tuned.”
The Bowen Visitor Information Centre originally denied knowing what had happened to the mango, but when it was discovered the incident hadn’t been reported to police people started becoming sceptical.
Bowen Visitor Information Centre tourism manager Christin Short told SmartCompany Nando’s had negotiated a deal with the centre.
“I haven’t been directly involved with it, it was our chairman [Paul McLaughlin], but from what I understand he was approached by Nando’s with the idea,” she says.
“We’ve had a lot of good publicity for our town. It’s been on the news here and even overseas. I’m originally from Germany and my family over there even saw reports about it on the news.”
Short says she’s hopeful the stunt will generate extra tourism for the town, but she doesn’t know when the mango will be returned.
“Hopefully [it will be returned] soon. We’ve been assured it’s in safe hands and we’ll find out more on Friday,” she says.
“We were involved in the first part of the plan, but from this point we don’t know what’s going to happen.”
The incident has sparked a variety of memes, with the mango appearing in locations all over the globe.
The Australian branch of KFC even tried to jump on the bandwagon, posting a photo of the mango inside a giant KFC chicken bucket.
On social media most consumers have responded positively to the stunt. However, others have criticised the brand for its “lunacy”, with Facebook user Sushant Mukherjee saying “Nandos marketing guys seem to be getting worse with every passing day”.
Another user criticised the chain, saying the mango will now always be linked to Nando’s rather than the “community or the industry it represents”.
It has been reported Sydney agency Banjo Advertising is behind the stunt, but it has yet to be confirmed.
SmartCompany contacted Banjo Advertising this morning, but received no response prior to publication.
Marketing Angels founder Michelle Gamble told SmartCompany Nando’s looks to have employed a new marketing agency with a focus on guerrilla marketing tactics.
“This style can be very effective, but I think they run the risk of overdoing it somewhat,” she says.
“People will see through it for what it is – a blatant attempt to get publicity.”
Earlier this month, Nando’s copped flak for an online campaign piggy-backing on Schapelle Corby’s release from prison.
The ad said “Schapelle, now that you’re out, try our delicious peri-peri chicken… the only bars you’ll see are on our grill”.
Gamble says Nando’s now run the risk of “offending the media” and the public.
“Particularly in Australia we have a good radar for when people are being inauthentic and I think this smacks of inauthenticity.”
Gamble says brands in the fast food industry are better off running campaigns which give back to the community.
“Nando’s keeps saying the brand is cheeky… but if you’re not then contributing back to the community you can turn people off,” she says.
“There are plenty of brands out there which manage to create goodwill around their campaigns like Grill’d and Guzman y Gomez. In this day and age people want to see companies with some sort of social policy.”
Gamble says doing something good for the community will attract attention, but also allow people to feel more engaged with the brand.
“People like to do business with companies which are doing good. Nando’s is out their grabbing attention and trying to do something bold and funky, but they’re missing an element to their campaigns and that is good will.”