Mad Mex plants Dictator lookalike in Sydney restaurant

Mexican food chain Mad Mex has launched a tactical stunt around the visit of British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen to Australia by putting a lookalike of his latest character The Dictator in its Crown Street restaurant in Sydney.

Magnum PR was behind the stunt, which has just been hired as Mad Mex’s new PR agency, replacing incumbent 6dc.

The stunt is part of Mad Mex’s ‘Big Burrito’ campaign, a challenge for Aussies to try to eat a burrito weighing 1kg, a repeat of a promotion that first launched last year.

The stunt comes two years after Melbourne’s The Sphere Agency highjacked the premiere of Sacha Baron Cohen film Bruno for client Nando’s.

The Sphere Agency boss Michael Abdul said of the Mad Mex stunt: “They should have called The Sphere Agency.”

Baron Cohen appeared on an uncut version of the Fitzy & Wippa show earlier this week in character as The Dictator.


  1. Cameron
    3 May 12
    2:57 pm

  2. That is possibly the worst stunt I have ever seen. What a horror start for a new agency. What were they thinking? Did anyone stand up in the brainstorm and ask, “Why are we going to waste people’s time on this?”

  3. Sacha fan
    3 May 12
    3:09 pm

  4. Very funny guys – beating Sacha at his own tricks!

  5. Seahorse
    3 May 12
    3:13 pm

  6. Cameron, why is it so bad? It’s garnered social media buzz and media attention and cost next to nothing.

  7. Abbey
    3 May 12
    3:16 pm

  8. I think it’s smart! What a great way to cash in on the current buzz around General Aladeen! And it’s got people talking.

  9. Charlie
    3 May 12
    3:16 pm

  10. New agency?? Magnum PR has been around for years. Usually generating a survey to get PR, at least it is a different campaign this time (not that I think it is a good one).

  11. Anonymous
    3 May 12
    3:19 pm

  12. Sweet lord, what a shocker.
    Seahorse, it’s so bad because the PR agency involved apparently tweeted that The Dictator was making an appearance in store, fans turned up expecting the real thing and got a side order of shoddy knock-off with their pork burrito instead. That’s a bad customer experience right there.

  13. Shane
    3 May 12
    3:20 pm

  14. @ Seahorse… although cheap, it was totally pathetic and made the PR company and its client look like utter dicks! If I was the Mexican place I’d fast be parting ways this afternoon.

  15. Cameron
    3 May 12
    3:28 pm

  16. I think the previous posters have already said what I was going to say in reply to your question, Seahorse. Cheers.

  17. Bored of creative bores
    3 May 12
    3:31 pm

  18. I think it’s a pretty funny low cost tongue in cheek stunt. Could have been a lot worse if it looked more like him and wasn’t him and it seems to be generating interest which I thought was the goal of PR. I’m guessing it probably won’t be highbrow enough for a lot people but I’m guessing a lot of those people take themselves way too seriously to notice simple fun these days.

  19. Anonymous
    3 May 12
    3:33 pm

  20. Waiting for Tim to say that comments 2,3 and 4 are all from the same IP address.

  21. Stu
    3 May 12
    3:39 pm

  22. I love the Dictator and I love burritos! What’s not to like? Seems like a bit of harmless fun to me.

  23. Hillbilly
    3 May 12
    3:39 pm

  24. Pretty good stunt….. Baron Cohen trades on over the top bad taste… so taste doesn’t come into it….. publicity – any publicity is what he aims for and that is what this stunt has also achieved…. most of the negative comments above sound like sour grapes…. “now why didn’t we think of that?”

  25. Borat
    3 May 12
    3:43 pm

  26. I agree with Bored. It was a quick, low-cost stunt that has got people talking. Seems like a good result to me.

  27. GC
    3 May 12
    3:45 pm

  28. Mad-Mex should be hosting in store Lucha Libre fighting.

    That would get me buying more Quesedillas.

  29. Cameron
    3 May 12
    3:49 pm

  30. Hardly, Hillbilly. Any self-respecting agency wouldn’t seek to piss off punters with a bogus celebrity appearance and then, on top of that, have those pissed off punters looking fairly and squarely at their brand new client as the #1 reason they’re pissed off. This whole mindset that any publicity is good publicity is so wrong, you have to wonder where some folk learned their trade. Certainly not from anyone who knows what they’re doing, that’s for sure.

  31. Anonymous
    3 May 12
    3:50 pm

  32. Mad Mex should call The Sphere Agency

  33. James
    3 May 12
    3:55 pm

  34. I agree ‘bored of creative bores’ – it looks like it was meant as a light-hearted story to get people talking, which it’s done.

  35. Anonymous
    3 May 12
    3:55 pm

  36. Lame.

  37. Marie
    3 May 12
    3:56 pm

  38. This journalist clearly loved it:


  39. Charlie
    3 May 12
    3:56 pm

  40. Now I await the survey results on how 9/10 people who watched ‘the Dictator’ thought he was Mexican

  41. Marie
    3 May 12
    4:00 pm

  42. One last thing – Any publicity is NOT good publicity if you had to deceive media to get it. PR is a relationship business – please explain how you maintain a relationship if you are not trusted by the very people you are meant to serve.

    ‘Got people talking’ – are you serious? If that were true then Slippery Pete would be in a very different situ right now…

  43. Real idea lover
    3 May 12
    4:01 pm

  44. Did I miss a meeting. What the hell does a dictator have to do with Cinco de mayo or Mexico? Great brand. Dumb PR stunt. The brand has an energetic and authentic quality that doesn’t take itself too seriously. But this PR stunt doesn’t relate in any way to what mad mex is all about. Weird. Stay true to your story Mad Mex as you are much loved.

  45. Hoin
    3 May 12
    4:03 pm

  46. If I were the producers of the film I would be looking at a lawsuit based on theft of intellectual property.

  47. Hillbilly
    3 May 12
    4:15 pm

  48. agree with james….. this was “in fun”…. Cameron – you seem to be rather bitter about this? Were you there – to have such in-depth knowledge about the experience of (who you call) “punters”??

  49. Cameron
    3 May 12
    4:22 pm

  50. Hillbilly, if you can’t see the issue with a strategy that relies on deceiving members of the public, and the media, to attend a fast food outlet, with zero pay-off when they get there, then I’d seriously have to wonder if you even work in this industry.

  51. Angela Fardel
    3 May 12
    4:30 pm

  52. This is awesome! Pretty smart, low cost PR stunt which seems to have generated a lot of exposure. Mad Mex should be stoked with this result.

  53. Bored of creative bores
    3 May 12
    4:37 pm

  54. From the tone of most of the negative comments it has turned into a PR bitch fest/pitch.

    “we could do so much better”.

    I’m amazed at how much venom is being thrown at a little harmless stunt. It’s a little depressing to be honest.

  55. jamie
    3 May 12
    4:43 pm

  56. I thought it was a decent stunt. Seems like Mad Mex is a fun brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously (how could it with a name like that?!) so I can see the link here for sure.

  57. Seahorse
    3 May 12
    4:45 pm

  58. I didn’t realise they tweeted and said he was appearing, that’s a little out of order.

    Either way, for the cost of (I assume) a fake beard they’ve managed to get the word out about Mad Mex and that new campaign thing they’re doing. The deceptive bit was shitty, but if it was just a look-a-like spontaneously then that would’ve been pretty alright. I’m torn.

  59. Mark
    3 May 12
    5:08 pm

  60. it’s shitty when any agency rides the coat tails or rips off another persons crative idea, whether it’s art, music or Sascha’s character…poor effort, keep racing to the bottom

  61. Omon
    3 May 12
    5:15 pm

  62. I don’t really think either of these stunts were good (The mexican restaurant or the film premiere by Sphere). Sure, they got publicity, but am I left feeling positive about the brand after either of them?
    Publicity has to be relevant and for the right reasons. Anyone can make headlines – even Charles Manson.

  63. Sacha
    3 May 12
    5:16 pm

  64. I saw the PR company go in an eat at Mad Pizza next door after it was done… True story!!

  65. Stephen G
    3 May 12
    5:19 pm

  66. Where’s the fit with Mexican food and the Dictator? Very random and ‘tactical’.

  67. Paul
    3 May 12
    5:58 pm

  68. Did I miss something? Did we take a trip back to 1999, complete with gimmicky Austin Powers look-a-likes? Groovy baby!

  69. Food lover
    3 May 12
    6:32 pm

  70. All I can think about now is Mexican food… Is there a Mad Mex is the Melbourne CBD? 😉

  71. Anonymous
    3 May 12
    7:40 pm

  72. This is so lame…. I’d be pissed off if I was promised to see Sasha baron, and ended up being greeted by this monkey…. Bad Pr move

  73. Anonymous
    3 May 12
    9:04 pm

  74. Terrible…………are they a real PR company?

  75. mimi
    4 May 12
    10:18 am

  76. With Cinco de Mayo actually happening this week.. and gee I don’t know. some sort of RELEVANCE to the brand.. perhaps the “creatives” at Magnum could have made a connection… somehow… and come up with an idea around that?? .. “You give PR’s a bad name” * Full acknowlegement & credit to Bon Jovi for ripping off and reusing their lyrics

  77. Hmmmm...
    4 May 12
    11:55 am

  78. Pity, I always liked Mad Mex. But this makes me like them less. Lame, cheap and tacky.

    Grill’d does the whole interesting PR thing so much better.

  79. Duck & cover
    4 May 12
    12:40 pm

  80. Ok this doesn’t seem like the best idea ever but I think a lot of you need to get some air and lay off the coffee… its clearly a quick photo stunt that has been blown way out!

    My first reaction was to laugh because it looked so stupid and doubt that anyone has been put off a brand because of a funny looking picture. Funny thing is the last PR story I read on here was the Grill’d one where their PR team tried to run a mile from the idea when the PR bitches got stuck into them.

    As a designer I understand that an idea counts for a lot but sometimes it feels nice to enjoy a silly idea for what it is and reading the comments most of the negative ones aren’t even constructive it just sounds like a few people have been waiting for a chance to have a pop at another agencie.

    I dont normally comment on these post but when you see 39 comments for a PR photo and no comments on the posts that actually impact the industry you have to wonder if people actually care about the impact an image has or they just want a bitch.

    Enjoy our weekend people a lot of you seem to need one.

  81. GC
    4 May 12
    1:06 pm

  82. @Duck & cover fair points. Still want to see Lucha Libre on Crown St though.

  83. rob
    4 May 12
    1:30 pm

  84. the reason people get cut down when lamo stuff like this makes the press is because they went out of their way to promote it within the industry. if agencies want to do some “light-hearted, harmless, fun” activities they should STFU about them in industry press.

    but everyone is such a shameless self-promoter in this biz that we can’t help ourselves, hence you run the risk of being smashed.

  85. Cameron
    4 May 12
    1:51 pm

  86. In response to “Duck & cover”, I think even a cursory read of Mumbrella shows a lot of good adverts, PR campaigns, etc, getting praised in the comments section — WHEN THEY’RE WORTH PRAISING. But this just isn’t praise worthy at all. Anyone who thinks it’s praise worthy is agreeing that it’s OK to piss off members of the public and the press so long as there was a “fun” photo taken and people talked about it later — even though at least half that conversation, if not more, is flat out criticising the campaign and, by association, people are now feeling less love for the brand for letting it happen in the first place.

  87. Duck & cover
    4 May 12
    2:52 pm

  88. Hi Cameron how are you doing today? I think you need a hug.

    Your clearly an industry expert and you make some very valid points but I doubt the public even took much notice to be honest. I know us creatives love to think we are changing the world but i’m sorry to tell you that were not.

    When you say people feeling less love for the brand I take it you mean the people who have read this post and seen the “stunt” (yes I said stunt because I very much doubt this is a campaign) and seen it as pretty much the end of the world when it comes to PR. I’m guessing a lot of the public just saw a funny picture and the name Mad Mex and went on with their day and didn’t let it bother them at all.

    Anyway i’m going to go… Oh and Cameron you keyboard seems to have a fault as the caps lock got a little stuck, or was that you screaming at the top of your voice at the injustice of it all.

    I dare you not to reply go on with your weekend and start the healing process of getting over this.

    Take care big fella

  89. Cameron
    4 May 12
    3:36 pm

  90. Sarcasm directed at me doesn’t change that what was done here was a shit strategy that pissed off the media and members of the public. Ask anyone if they think that’s a good starting point in a campaign and see how far you get *shrug*

  91. alan
    4 May 12
    9:16 pm

  92. This is a terrible PR stunt. I’d be firing my PR if they did this to promote my restaurant.

  93. Anonymous
    5 May 12
    11:42 am

  94. Personally it’s just cringeworthy, and that’s speaking from a consumer’s point of view. You announce some sort of celeb visit, and when people turn up it’s just some lame ass lookalike (and he doesn’t even look alike!).

    Too cheap to afford the real thing…it’s like those generic products “inspired” by the real thing…