The Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) is set to sanction Sterling Bank over its Easter Sunday message in some print and digital media platforms yesterday.
In a statement signed by its Registrar / Chief Executive, Dr. Olalekan Fadolapo, APCON said it will take necessary actions to ensure that the bank is sanctioned for the exposure of such offensive advertisement, noting that the distasteful advert was neither submitted nor approved for exposure by the Advertising Standards panel (ASP) of the council.
The statement read in part: “The Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) has observed with displeasure the insensitive and provocative Easter celebration advertisement by Sterling bank Plc which compared the resurrection of Christ with Agege Bread.”
The Easter Sunday advert by Sterling Bank raised dust yesterday especially by Christians who questioned the bank’s choice of comparing the resurrection of Jesus Christ with Agege bread (Agege bread is a popular Nigerian bread known for its soft, stretchy and chewy texture).
Chido Nwakanma, Communication strategist and journalist posted on his Facebook page that the entire Corporate Communications team at Sterling Bank should be shown the door. He said: “Unless they are equally complicit, the Management of Sterling Bank should clear its Corporate Comms team on Tuesday. Everyone involved in preparing and placing that obnoxious ad that pokes noxious fingers into the eyes of all Christians in Nigeria should not be involved in communications one day extra. A corporate entity such as Sterling Bank signs off on an ad that compares the basis of the Christian faith to Agege Bread. It is the height of idiocy! It is an offensive joke. The resurrection of Christ is the foundation of our faith as Christians. Blaze comparisons in the name of creativity are offensive.”
Charles O’Tudor, brand strategist and principal consultant at ADSTRAT BMC also described the advert as extremely distasteful and devoid of cerebral filtration. “I have tried to review that material from all feasible angles and it still fell flat. That bank is becoming notorious for contents like this. It’s extremely LOW.”
Other Nigerians have suggested that all Christians to withdraw their money from the bank and stop doing business with them
Following the uproar yesterday, the bank went on to offer an apology which was released on digital platforms; which many found equally offensive. The follow-up copy read “Forgive in the Spirit of Easter” with a caveat that said: “Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone”.
In veteran journalist, Ikeddy Isiguzo’s opinion, the apology was worse than the first copy.
However, Sterling Bank is not a stranger to these kinds of adverts. It will be recalled that in 2018, the bank’s “In shooting for the moon, men become stars” ad, the bank threw shades at some other banks as about six banks’ buildings/logos were featured in the ad, with the Sterling Bank customer heading to the moon.
Sterling Bank also apologised with an equally cheeky copy of a Sterling Bank customer on the moon.