FNB withdraws campaign videos following ANC reaction

FNB Johannesburg headquarters

The headquarters of the First National Bank, Bank City, downtown Johannesburg.

The headquarters of the First National Bank, Bank City, downtown Johannesburg.

FNB Johannesburg headquarters

The headquarters of the First National Bank, Bank City, downtown Johannesburg.

The headquarters of the First National Bank, Bank City, downtown Johannesburg.

First National Bank has withdrawn some of the controversial "You Can Help" adverts following complaints by the ANC.

FNB launched the campaign last week through a live three minute broadcast and series of online videos.

The ruling party says FNB&39;s latest brand campaign is an act of treason. The bank interviewed more than 1,300 people between the ages of ten and 22, to get a snapshot of the opinions of the youth. It combined these views in a three minute, live broadcast last week, but it was the internet blog that had the ruling party seething.

One message criticised the use of government money to upgrade "President Jacob Zuma&39;s private residence in Nkandla". Another called Education Minister Angie Motshekga "brainless" because of last year&39;s textbook debacle.

The ruling party has previously threatened big business for criticising government. In 2007, FNB was forced to pull another multimillion-rand advertising campaign which urged members of the public to pressure former President Thabo Mbeki into prioritising crime. More recently, Nedbank came under attack for questioning the quality of ANC leadership. And last year the ruling party called for a boycott of a Sunday newspaper.

The Freedom of Expression Institute has described the ANC&39;s actions as bordering on censorship. But party leaders say they&39;re determined to defend the ANC and government against similar attacks in future.