Azhar Vadi | Cii News, Pic: youtube.com/user/FNBTV | 21 January 2012
The African National Congress (ANC) and its youth league have been left jaw dropped by a recently launched video advert campaign run by First National Bank, a leading financial institution in South Africa.
The ‘You Can Help’ campaign has been labeled as disingenuous and, “…a lame attempt to recreate an Arab Spring of some sort in South Africa” by the ANCYL in a statement issued to the media.
The bank said that the productions were meant to remind South Africa, “ …of the greatness inside all of us, and what is possible when help is joined to common purpose and courage to necessity.”
At 18:57, on 17 January 2013, the campaign went a live on South African television after the bank captured a snapshot of the opinions of the youth through a survey of 1300 learners and students (ages 10 to 22).
FNB’s statement quoted Bernice Samuels, the bank’s Chief Marketing Officer as saying, “The intention of the campaign is not to talk about ourselves, but rather to be a brand for betterment by providing the youth of our country with a stage to voice what impacts the daily reality of many South Africans through the lens of our brand’s core positioning of ‘Help’.”
The bank admitted that although some of what the young people had to say, “…was hard to hear, we learnt too that our youth carry inside them a fire that burns with hope and positivity.”
It was however obvious from the response delivered by the ANCYL and the ANC that it was not appreciated.
“If FNB feels at any point that anything is wrong with the government of the African National Congress they have more than enough platforms and opportunity to raise their issues. They should not hide behind young children who are scripted to say things that firstly, they don’t know, but secondly that adults are too afraid to say,” ANCYL head of communications, Khusela Sangoni-Khawe told Cii Radio.
But what exactly did the young people say in their recordings that managed to tick other young people operating under the wings of the ruling party off.
Several statements made reference to the ANC and government’s weaknesses. Christopher, a young man from Gauteng said in one of the videos after describing South Africa as a paradise with unlimited potential: “But we need to get real. Is South Africa really the paradise? To be quite frank, no. This very moment, South Africa faces, poverty, unemployment and nationwide strikes.” He went on to say, “South African people need to wake up – 1994 is gone! It is gone!” and concluded by saying, “Today is the day South Africa, take charge and fight for what is yours.”
Other participants spoke about President Jacob Zuma’s extensions at his home in Nkandla as well as the Limpopo textbook saga. One participant, Tiara said, “Stop voting for the same government in hopes for change – instead change your hopes to a government that has the same hopes as us.”
Keith Khoza, the ANC spokesperson said some of the statements were dismissive. “We know that development is an inherent challenge that can’t just be left to young people to make a determination (on) and we think that FNB is making a political statement through these adverts.”
The ANCYL statement was less tolerating. Despite saying that these were issues that young people did not understand, the youth oraganisation lashed FNB.
Their statement noted that they found it,”…impossible to believe that a bank formed and sustained by the hard work and toil of the South African people could so crudely turn on the very people who guarantee its livelihood.”
The leagued also questioned, “…whether indeed its (FNB’s) Chief Executive, Michael Jordaan, would not have the courage to face the nation, the government and the ANC, when he agitates for an overthrow of our government, would he indeed hide behind the faces of young, innocent children, used for the whims and entertainment of capital to drive what is undoubtedly a treasonous agenda?”
They said the campaign undermined the gains of, “…democracy and the legitimate, democratic government of the people.”
“The intention is clear and the enemy is unmasked,” read the statement. The ANCYL called on South Africans to, “…close ranks against what is treacherous attack on our country.”
The videos appear to have been removed from social networking YouTube on Monday morning despite being made available earlier. Some of the links have been replaced with adverts for FNB products. Perhaps all it amounted to was ingenious marketing.