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The Advertising Standards Authority has dismissed an objection by former SAA chief executive officer Khayakhulu Ngqula, to the line "Chicken or beef Mr Ngqula?" in a Nando's advertisement.
The phrase "chicken or beef", usually associated with air hostesses, made light of the "substantial media hype" around Ngqula's dispute with SAA after allegations that his wife obtained a tender through her association with him.
It did not imply that he or she were guilty, the authority ruled.
The ruling was in response to a complaint lodged by Ngqula's attorneys after the advert appeared in a Sunday newspaper in March.
Ngqula submitted that although the allegations were false and had been publicly retracted, the advert was placed without his knowledge or consent.
He charged that it was "clear that the undertone" implied his conduct was improper and dishonest.
As such, the advert was "highly defamatory and prejudicial" to Ngqula's good name and reputation.
Nando's responded that the advert chose a widely-publicised societal issue as its theme, and did not comment on the activities of Ngqula or the media coverage.
Also, public figures enjoyed less privacy than ordinary individuals.
While there was interplay between the reference to Nando's chicken and Ngqula's reluctance to "face the music", also commonly referred to as being chicken, the humour related to actual events, and could not be said to be defamatory.
Nando's said its "tendency to make use of social commentary in its advertising was well documented with the ASA".
The advertising authority said Ngqula's dispute and alleged wrong-doing were well reported in various media, which arguably lowered his entitlement to complete privacy.
The commentary was neutral and non-accusatory, and could not be said to transgress his "reasonable degree of privacy".