Cape Town - The Advertising Standards Authority of SA had already received a complaint from a member of the public about an “inappropriate” FNB advertisement, days before the ANC and its alliance partners erupted in anger over it.
The authority’s dispute resolution unit manager, Leon Grobler, confirmed to the Cape Argus that a complaint had been lodged at the weekend.
“It was from a member of the public, and not the ANC. It’s a new complaint we received at the weekend,” said Grobler.
The ANC has not registered its unhappiness with the authority, but said on Monday it was “appalled” by the FNB “You can help” advertisements, claiming the party, its leadership and government were “under attack on a commercial masqueraded as youth views”.
Videos posted online as part of the campaign showed youths airing their views of the country and the government, many of them highly critical.
Grobler said the person who lodged the complaint had said it was “alarming that FNB has an advert in front of Naledi High School, and it’s inappropriate because of today’s situation”.
“He also asks how and why it was aired. But, for what it’s worth, the ANC can also lodge a complaint, but it will have to be in writing,” said Grobler.
Grobler said the authority was still assessing the complaint and was therefore not in a position to make a final ruling at this stage.
Contrary to reports, FNB said it had not pulled the television advertisement, and that it could be seen on eNews Channel Africa yesterday afternoon. But the bank has removed a series of research videos that were published on its blog.
The Freedom of Expression Institute called the ANC intolerant and criticised its reaction to the advertisements.
“When the ANC was in opposition, it called on business to speak out on issues of national importance. Even in government, the ANC has recently called on business leadership to be more engaged with government and policy issues.
“In its criticism of FNB’s advert, the ANC and its alliance partners are now showing intolerance of views which might be uncomfortable and critical,” said the institute’s director, Phenyo Butale.
He said FNB was only giving voice to the views of some young South Africans, and this appeared to be a useful contribution to the national debate.
“We do not hear enough of the voices and opinions of young people, and it is useful and valuable to bring such views to the fore – even if they are critical and discomfiting,” said Butale.