Dear Nando’s Pakistan,

First of all, I’d like to congratulate you on a great chain of good chicken restaurants. Your sauces are exactly what this country needs: a fire in their belly rather than in their homes.

Unfortunately, sometimes you allow that fire to burn up the brain cells of your marketing guys.

See, while we may live in an era where religion and traditions can be used for humourous advertising, it sometimes pans out the way we want and sometimes not. In fact, even in Pakistan, where religion is of paramount sensitivity, attempts to use this in advertising have worked well.

Unlike this last Good Friday.

Here’s a synopsis of Good Friday: It is called Good, because we Christians believe that Jesus Christ willingly sacrificed himself to the most horrific torture and humiliation so that humanity may be spared hell by the shedding of his blood. Just as Abraham, Moses and many other Prophets believed sacred in Islam and Christianity sacrificed sheep or lambs to God in reparation of sins, Jesus went through the same for humanity.

So while the sentiment of that sacrifice allows us to call the day ‘Good’, make no mistake all of Christianity in every denomination around the world considers this day to be a day of solemnity, holiness and fasting. It is a day where we remember we are sinners and the price that was paid for our soul’s freedom. In fact, the 1.5 billion Catholics in the world – including those in Pakistan – are called to NOT eat at all on Good Friday. It is the one day in the year where we are expected to fast most of all, if we don’t fast on any other day. Also, if we do have a meal, we are expected to NOT have meat of any kind

Imagine our surprise, when, on Good Friday, you posted this advert on your Facebook page.

Nandos Pakistan You want us to turn Good Friday into a great Friday with food? Especially, wonder of wonders: chicken!?

Holy grilled thighs, Batman, where do I sign up for this feast! (sarcasm intended).

Please note, Nandos, the fallacy:

1. In Pakistan, the majority of the population is Muslim. They don’t believe in Good Friday. So your advertisement is probably lost on the lot of them
2. In Pakistan, the Christians who do celebrate Good Friday do so with reverence. Your advertisement is also lost on them
3. Telling Christians they can have a ‘greater’ Good Friday by eating more of your chicken on a day they’re not supposed to eat chicken

So, here we are. It comes down to us Christians choosing your chicken over the holy Lamb of God.

Any thoughts of what went wrong? Or was your marketing campaign undercooked?

I won’t demand an apology, because that’s just petty. It’s not about apologies, in fact, so don’t think I’m offended in any way.

In Pakistan, lack of understanding other religions and cultures is what really fuels much terrorism, hatred, violence and the like. One look at Joseph Colony and Gojra should tell you that. Any attempt by any commercial entity to make a mockery of religious sentiments should be avoided, because we simply do NOT live in a country where people will not be affected by this.

Will Christians stone your stores? No. Will they be told ‘dude, just laugh it off’? Yes. Yet, imagine if a non-Christian Pakistani tomorrow were to make fun of Good Friday because hey, Nandos did it too, what’s the big deal?

I’m not asking for tolerance from your marketing guys. I’m asking for intelligence. And perhaps a little common sense. Lay off the peri-peri for a while and it may sink in.

Anthony J Permal
A Christian Pakistani