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Sterling Bank and Agege Bread ad: An unpardonable gaffe

Holiday campaigns are crucial for most brands; this is a smart way for a brand to maximise their communication campaign. A well-planned approach can help…

Holiday campaigns are crucial for most brands; this is a smart way for a brand to maximise their communication campaign. A well-planned approach can help promote sales or a reminder to customers about the value it preached.

Last weekend, the Christian community celebrated Easter; many brands and businesses took advantage of the season to push out creative campaigns and felicitate with the Christians, but for Sterling Bank, it was an odd period when things went south due to their own indiscretion.

The message could have been an incredible brand connection and greeting to felicitate the Christian community for the Easter celebration but drew widespread public criticisms from Nigerians who expressed their outrage online over the comparison of the rise of Jesus to the rise of Agege Bread.

The message was considered offensive by many who wondered if Sterling Bank deliberately set out to annoy Christians. Many social media users called the bank out and urged regulatory bodies to penalise them for such offensive content.

In its reaction on Monday, the Advertising Practitioner Council of Nigeria (APCON) threatened to take necessary action to ensure that the bank is sanctioned for “the exposure of such offensive advertisement according to law.”

The council also described the advertisement as “distasteful”, adding that it was neither submitted nor approved for exposure by the Advertising Standards Panel, the statutory body charged with the responsibility of ensuring that advertisements conform with prevailing laws.

The editorial team of the bank could have been more sensitive to the feelings of Christians before posting such offensive content. The content of the bank’s apology was even more annoying.

It should have observed the word of Bear Bryant, an American Football coach, who remarked: “In a crisis, don’t hide behind anything or anybody. They’re going to find you anyway.”

Sterling Bank, long ago, has engaged with cerebral creative concept writers and strategic communicators who can do better to convince and persuade Nigerians while deploying the message to the same media to reassure the public and sensitize its workforce to ensure the fallout won’t repeat itself as described in the letter.

Also, deploying persuasive techniques which require reinforcing attitudes and beliefs or behaviour to garner favour and goodwill is very key.

Anyway, brands will learn from this slip-up to be watchful of contents, particularly those that relate with faith in the future, since a slender line is exceptionally hazardous to cross in any event like this.

Kabir Abdulsalam, writes from Wuye District, Abuja