Sterling Bank stirred the hornet’s nest with its advert, wishing Christians a happy Easter. The only trouble was that it injured Christians’ sensibilities. It says: “Like Agege Bread, He Rose!” That is, Jesus Christ rose or resurrected like Agege bread, a crudely baked, bromide laden delicacy among Lagosians.
However, the bank issued an apology which many considered arrogant on their verified Twitter account. It said: “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
“We humbly celebrate His resurrection, the defeat of death, and the hope of salvation.”
For the above, Nigerians are still angry. Chido Nwakanma, a Communications expert wrote that 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. Have you seen the obnoxious and insulting ad? 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.
Then Sterling Bank worsens the offence by offering a non-apology. The uninformed copy asks us to “Forgive in the Spirit of Easter” but confirms they are not sorry. It states, “Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone”. Foolishness!
“For our recent errors, we sincerely apologize. We humbly celebrate his resurrection, the defeat of death and the hope of salvation.”
Tive Denedo wrote: “I saw the offensive ad and I wondered if Christians would not always turn the other cheek could Sterling Bank have mustered the audacity to place that advert. Christians need to strategise on responses to such offences that cast aspersions on our faith.”
Chidiebere Onyemaizu also submitted: “Were Easter to be a Moslem festival and this type of absurd symbol was used to depict its essence, many Sterling bank branches up North would have been smouldering by now. Ikeddy Chinedu Isiguzo’s reaction was short and sharp: “The apology is worse than the first copy.”
To Emeka Ibe, the Sterling Bank team “is made up of professional idiots and they lack understanding and appreciation of the Christian faith. The bank and its management team should be punished in any way possible by everyone who feels offended.”
Sanya Ademiluyi also saw it as creativity gone awry! “If a copywriter is not well-grounded in faith he or she should not dabble or toy with religious copies.it could as in this case turn out badly. Let’s hope the bank will keep off Christian based ads.”
Nwakanma added also: “Which dullards did this? Is it because Christians have few bomb-throwers and arsonists? Note that it would be compounding the offence to reproduce the offensive ad. Remember that Sterling Bank committed a similar offence in 2018 with its “In shooting for the moon, men become stars” ad. It similarly apologised. Is that the Sterling Bank tradition? Put two feet in the mouth and then say sorry? Not good at all.
APCON should check. Did the Advertising Standards Panel approve this ad?
APCON, in a statement on Monday signed by its Registrar and Chief Executive, Olalekan Fadolapo, threatened to sanction the bank. “The Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria 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 distasteful advertisement was neither submitted nor approved for exposure by the Advertising Standards Panel, the statutory Panel charged with the responsibility of ensuring that advertisements conform with the prevailing laws of the federation as well as the code of ethics of Advertising in Nigeria.
“APCON will take necessary actions to ensure that Sterling Bank is sanctioned for the exposure of such offensive advertisement according to law and that no religious belief or faith is ridiculed or any blasphemous advertisement exposed in any guise.”