I reveled in the drama caused by Sterling Bank’s shady jab at other financial institutions. They shot for the moon and promptly issued an apology after landing. I and many other onlookers didn’t expect this as an aftermath to the trending post.
‘In shooting for the moon, men become stars’ Sterling bank landed on the moon and proffered an apology.
“Our apologies go out to all the banks -the likeness of whose logos & buildings featured in a post which we have since deleted. We remain committed to building an organisation that enables our youth find expression & we will continue to do this in the most responsible fashion.”
The apology appeared on the Sterling Bank social media pages on Tuesday. According to economic watchers ‘Nairametrics’, Guarantee Trust Bank reported the ad to the Central Bank of Nigeria after declining to address the post directly.
In response to this, the Central Bank of Nigeria sent a letter to Sterling bank to;
“pull down the post from its Twitter handle, write and unreserved apology, through the same medium, to all banks whose logos and buildings you used in the advert and explain within twenty-four hours why regulatory sanctions should not be imposed on your bank”
The CBN named the post an attempt by Sterling bank to demarket other banks and alleged that the post was perpetuated in violation of the Banking and Other Financial Institutions Act whilst generating negative comments for the entire banking industry.
The public however, thought differently of the apology, calling out GTBank’s alleged snitching and applauding the poster #letusseegoodbrandadverts
In ‘Of Rockets, Bombs and Shade’ I explored how the ethics of the initial post were obviously up for debate. Subtle and even sometimes direct jabs through advertisement are commonplace in the international market. The Central bank of Nigeria has decided that this might not be a new direction in the world’s advertising industry but it is definitely not the Nigerian way (of banks at least).
A Onewildcard commentator argues that; while this type of aggressive advertising is not the ‘Nigerian way’, it should be. Ads such as the Sterling Bank poster provide social commentary and start conversations on what brands are doing wrong and how to better improve their services.
Another points out what is echoed by CBN and says that such behaviour is unbecoming of brands in the financial sector.
The implications of such apologies needs to be explored. I fear that the apology will bring about more timidity of expression in Sterling bank and other brands that are looking on. For ads, creativity naturally plays a huge role in effecting a campaign that is relatable and engaging to existing and potential consumers. Having to retract such posts surely has a debilitating effect on creativity and design confidence.
At the same time, even though it was tagged #bankwars, it was not and is not a fight. All brand communications are expected to be respectful and responsible and that must be balanced alongside the natural creativity.
Sterling Bank Plc says they are committed to a brand that enables youth to find expression and I applaud that sentiment. I and the rest of the country will continue to look on as the saga unfolds.
“We need a fresh ideas, something out of the box, something out of this world.”