18 April 2022 0 Comments

Sterling Bank Nigeria, abysmal and insensitive Easter communications

Author: yinkaolaito

Yinka Olaito is happy,excited and passionate Communications & Media specialist, Trainer and speaker. Yinka Olaito helps Profits and Non-profits with effective communication and positioning for premium service delivery and returns. Yinka Olaito also has special interest in Development Communication and has consulted for noted UN Agencies. Yinka Olaito is the CCO of Michael Sage Consulting(Communication/digital media), African Child Education Right Initiatives(NGO) and Content Director, Africa Development Talk( online Platform for discussion on Policy, Governance, development across Africa) and Africa Foundation for Young Media Professionals

Sterling bank in its Easter message turned itself to a ‘god’ over its target. While it is human to err, accepting the fact that you make mistake and genuinely apologise is a big issue for some. Sterling bank and its communications team proved that they are always right and that the customers’ outburst was unjustified

One can only wonder how far can a bank, which is trying hard to become an acceptable bank, in the committee of other reliable and stronger banks within its domain should become so arrogant and insensitive to its target and environment.

Effective communications often place value on the context, mood, environment and other important elements which should not convey a lack of understanding of the messaging, channel, meaning and holistic interpretation of the message a brand, person wants to share. While it is noteworthy Sterling Bank’s  purpose of the communication is to felicitate with its customers during the annual Easter celebration, the choice of word, image used was a flagrant abuse of the real meaning of Easter to the Christian faithful.

One advantage the bank enjoyed was that Christianity is a liberal religion where people are open minded and can easily overlook misdeeds. What is very clear is that we do know Sterling Bank Nigeria might not have had an easy time if the same was done to other noted religions in the Country.

One is still wondering if Sterling Bank Nigeria has a head of corporate communications who understand the terrain where the bank operates. More also, it is also a concern of Sterling bank actually has a communication quality assurance and control team or it just allows outsourced or overly enthusiastic digital team or copywriter who are allowed to push out anything which appears fanciful to them. Someone had told me categorically that Sterling Bank team deliberately did that to generate buzz. I doubt if that was true. Who will deliberately seeks a negative image just for the fun of it?

Now let us get down to the issue. The first message sent read ‘ Like Agege Bread, He rose’. Will Sterling Bank have had it so easy if the forerunner of other religion, who are considered to be holy and important, is equated with ‘Agege bread? ‘Agege bread’ in its meaning is associated with low quality as against proper sliced bread which are more expensive.’Agege bread’ has a local image and it is popular food of the poor and not the wealthy

‘Agege bread’ also contains in excess an ingredient, considered to be harmful to human health. This ingredient is what propels the bread ‘to overblow’ in a higher proportion. What Sterling Bank is saying invariably is that Jesus Christ, the Lord Christians serve is inferior and needs a level of addictive to become who He is.

This may be considered a blasphemy in case this is done to other noted religion and Sterling Bank could have inflamed the country with unnecessary riots in the face of present insecurity.

As if that was not enough, the public outcry on social media provoked a rejoinder or what we can call a redress which Sterling Bank team felt was not necessary. Sterling Bank team quickly sent in a ‘forced apology’ stained with pride. Had it been the team used another set of words, it could have been better. Instead Sterling Bank went ahead to quote from Holy Writ of Christians-Bible, to justify its pride.

The line reads ‘who he who had not sinned before should throw the first stone’. What stopped Sterling Bank team from just apologising without a clause which showed transferred the blame to its customers or crowd?

Sterling Bank invariably was saying ‘our customers or the targets were the cause of our mistakes and therefore, they should just keep quiet. What a shame and arrogance.

Sterling Bank and its team should be grateful Christian faithful aren’t like others. The holy anger its branches would had witnessed in the last four days could have been damning.

Sterling Communications team need to put some thoughts into its communications. It is not just the fad or the coinage of easy words, attention to meaning, context, and environment are also key issues in Communications.

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