FNB blames media for ad confusion

Jan 29 2013 16:22
FNB ad screen grab

Screen grab of the controversial FNB ad.

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Cape Town - First National Bank on Tuesday refuted reports that the bank paid and coached children to make negative statements against the ANC and government.

The bank also strongly denied suggestions that it intended to attack the ANC and government. 

FNB said in a statement on Tuesday some media reports fail to differentiate between the TV advert itself and the survey interview clips and it is important to provide this clarity.

Chief marketing officer Bernice Samuels said the TV ad was scripted based on key themes from the survey conducted by an independent research firm. "The children who took part in the TV advert received performance fees and is standard industry practice."

However, the unscripted survey interview clips, were the children's own views and were not scripted or censored. "Importantly, the participants to the survey were never advised of who had commissioned the survey... and they were not paid to participate."

All the responses of the 1 300 respondents that were interviewed were captured on camera, according to Samuels.

She was responding to a report in The New Age which said the views expressed in the advert were scripted and the children who took part in the three minute 26 seconds broadcast campaign were paid R3 500 a day.

Samuels said the ad campaign, which comprised a TV advertisement titled ‘There will be a day’, outdoor billboards and the blog site ‘You can Help’, are still ongoing. "The ad is still aired across various television channels and is also available online."

Samuels stressed that the bank only apologised for the posting of four survey interview clips online that caused offence.

She said the bank’s only intention with the campaign was to "stimulate social consciousness around the power of help to build a better South Africa".

Last week, the bank's ad campaign came under fierce criticism by the ANC and its affiliates - the Women's and Youth league - for launching a "treacherous attack" on the government.

The bank has taken a hiding twice in the past few years over “controversial” ads.

The SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry last week said that the fallout between FNB and the ANC was a sign of tension between the government and business.

After consultations with the government on Friday, FNB apologised for the offensive online survey clips and expressed a commitment to tackling poverty, inequality and unemployment. 

"The CEO of FirstRand [JSE:FSR], Mr Sizwe Nxasana, agreed that the research clippings that were posted online were regrettable; he apologised for the posting of the research clippings online," the ANC said after the meeting with FNB.

On Tuesday Samuels reiterated that the bank was pleased that the ANC has expressed its support for the overall FNB ‘You Can Help’ campaign, "which continues".

Referring to a report in The New Age, Samuels said the ‘You can Help’ campaign is being rolled out in various phases. The New Age article on a casting that took place on January 9 for broadcast on January 17 is incorrect, Samuels said.

"The details of this 9 January 2013 casting sheet therefore did not pertain to the ‘There will be a day’ TV advert aired on  the 17 January 2013, but specifically to the casting of the next phase of the campaign intended to launch later in the year."

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