The Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria has frowned at the advert of Sterling Bank to connect with it’s customers during the Easter celebrations.
Taking advantage of the season for brand communication, Sterling Bank just as the Federal Inland Revenue Service. FIRS, flouted advertising rules by comparing the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the Price paid by Him to Agege Bread and payment of tax respectively.
The unethical advert according to APCON was circulated during the celebration of Easter at the weekend.
APCON in a press release signed by the Registrar and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Olalekan Fadolapo expressed displeasure at the insensitive and provocative Easter advertisement by the bank which compared resurrection of Crist to Agege bread.
The council stated that the distasteful advertisement was neither submitted nor approved for exposure by the Advertising Standard Panel. (ASP), the statutory panel charged with the responsibility of ensuring that advertisements conform with the prevailing laws of the federation as well as the code of ethics of Advertising in Nigeria.
“APCON will take necessary actions to ensure that Sterling Bank is sanctioned for the exposure of such offensive advertisement according to law and that no religious belief or faith is ridiculed or any blasphemous advertisement exposed in any guise,” it stated.
However in a letter of apology by Sterling Bank, signed by the Chief Executive Officer, Abubakar Suleiman and directed to their customers, the bank accepted that the content of the infographic and the message it contained was insensitive and failed to consider the very sober nature of the event being commemorated, the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“On behalf of the management and staff of Sterling Bank PLC, I write to tender our unreserved apology to you and members of our nation’s Christian Community for our Easter message email of 17 April, 2022.
“While the message had no malicious intent, there is no place for content that fails to fully account for the feelings of billions of people all over the world,” he stated.
He explained that the intent was to join their customers in Nigeria and worldwide in celebrating the solemn event, “but our execution fell short of this occasion.”
“Our policies are clear on what constitutes acceptable customer communication, and this message should not have been released to our customers. On this occasion, our editorial processes fell short of our policy standards.”
He added that the bank has cancelled the offensive material and initiated a review of the circumstances that led to the failure.
“We will further sensitize our workforce to ensure this unfortunate lapse in judgement never repeats itself.”
Even with this apology, experts in the industry have condemned the bank for its unethical display and urged them to take full responsibility for their action.
Mr. Alfred Akhokhia, an expert in the industry said the so called letter of apology did not show any serious remorse on the part of the bank.
“The letter is stylishly justifying what the bank did and blaming the public for misconstruing the content of the ad in question.”
He urged the bank to come out unequivocally and take full respons
ibility for their action.
“If it were to be with the other religion the consequences would have been terrible.
“Jesus is Lord; and this is the believe of all Christians and this letter is still saying “resurrection of Jesus Christ”. It is Christian celebration and if you must felicitate with them, do it in a way they will appreciate.
“To me this letter is mischievous and has a lot of malicious innuendos. To make matters worse, it’s not addressed to APCON, more so when the ad in question was not vetted.
I suggest that APCON should heavily sanction the bank and the agency that handled this if there is any,” he said.
Mr. Yinka Adepoju on his part commended the Registrar of APCON for the action taken so far on the Sterling Bank “Agege Bread” Easter Advertisement but urged the Council to do more.
“It’s a misnomer for anyone or corporate entity to make joke with the holy name just like Sterling Bank had done “Agege Bread” God is holy, Jesus is Lord and must be treated with respect.”
He added that such action under any guise is a terrible assault that can bring ridicule to the name or cause disaffection amongst the believers and must be totally condemned.
“The actors here are the Agency if any, the Client, the Medium or Media houses if placements were done apart from Social Media Platforms.
They are all culpable and must be sanctioned for not demanding for APCON’s Vetting Certificate.
To Mr. Vincent Oyo the so-called apology letter is addressed to the bank’s customer’.
“So the CEO thinks it is only their customers they offended? They still have a lot to learn.”