First National Bank’s (FNB’s) controversial advertising campaign was scripted and the featured children paid R3,500 (US$387) per day, according to the New Age newspaper, news which has caused mixed responses on Twitter.
HumanIPO reported last week that FNB’s “You Can Help” campaign in South Africa had angered the African National Congress (ANC) and its affiliates. The controversy saw social media become active with many speaking out against the ANC’s reaction.
Today (January 29) evidence emerged revealing FNB had scripted the final advertisement and paid the young woman featured.
Bernice Samuels, FNB Chief Marketer, reportedly told the New Age it was an industry standard to pay performers for their services in an advertisement. Once again, social media is active with mixed emotions.
The New Age claims this is a contradiction to FNB’s claims of spontaneity of the children’s opinions in the other videos. FNB would not disclose the name as well as the position of the person responsible for approving the final campaign advertisement.
The children featured in the campaign were apparently carefully selected and a call sheet from Take Ten Casting agency proves this. However, Samuels maintains the casting interviews were “unscripted, uncensored and very much from the heart”, but the finished advertisement had been scripted.
FNB has since met with ANC leaders and apologised for the offence taken by the party, while HumanIPO reported earlier today that the bank’s chief executive, Michael Jordaan, had hit back at suggestions of resigning over the issue.
Members of the public have been actively tweeting and commenting on Facebook. This is what some of them had to say:
Raeesah Vawda (@raeesahv) tweeted: “FNB kids scripted and paid… [referring to the New Age article] this article is the most ambiguous thing written on the FNB/ANC saga yet.”
Mark Palmer (@MarkPalmerComic) tweeted: “If there’s anything this #FNB saga has taught us, is that banks should stick to what they know best, charging their clients obscene fees.”
Jill Greenberg (@dcjill) tweeted: “Lies, lies and more lies. I can’t even find the truth in this #FNB story anymore.”
Anele Mda (@Neza4real) tweeted: “For a R3500 a day the #FNB rented kids just so they can read #FNB script at talking ill of Govt. FNB you have gone so low [sic].”
Ludgero Pinto, in support of the bank, said on Facebook: “Come on FNB! Don’t pull the ads regardless of whether they were scripted or not.”
On Facebook, Matthew James wrote: “Terribly disappointed with you FNB. Honestly contemplating moving banks after this whole advert business. My banking with you has always been pleasant, but as far as FNB’s character goes, by the way you’ve almost completely backed down, not stood up for yourself and just let the ANC walk all over you… Brilliant campaign though, I would only hope you carry on with it and take no sh*t from the ANC.”
FNB’s R.B. Jacobs responded to James’ post, first thanking him for his interest in the campaign. “We stand by our campaign, the objectives of which are to inspire all South Africans to work together in helping to build a better South Africa. We have not pulled the campaign nor the TV ad…”
FNB continued: “The apology expressed was for posting verbatim opinions online, collected during the survey conducted by an independent third party. I sincerely hope that you can see that our intentions were for the best and that you continue to remain with us as a valued customer.”
This is in line with Jordaan’s clarification on Twitter that newspapers across the country, especially the New Age, reported that FNB had paid children to cast the government in a negative light is untrue because they confused two separate issues – the final advertisement being scripted being one and the second being the apology to the ANC for the unscripted criticism through a separate survey interview clips initially published online by FNB.