So unless you were AWOL from Social Media, Twitter in particular, you already know everything or at the very least, the gist of  the #BankWars that began courtesy of Sterling Bank last Friday. Now as fun as it is to weigh in, in the moment, we were carefully biding our time to see what brand was still standing once the dust settled.

For the benefit of those who don’t know what happened, here’s the tweet that got everything started!

Now for those who are still confused, from L to R; Access Bank Logo, GTB, First Bank, Union Bank and Sterling bank all the way in the Sky. A few extra observant  twitter handles noted that the buildings in the back reminiscent of Marina, were more subtle digs at UBA and FCMB.We’re neither here nor there on those claims.

Before we we begin, I’d like to begin by addressing what I believe to be one of the most erroneous PR quotes in the history of PR and it is that “Any publicity is good publicity.”

Unfortunately for every brand and PR person who thinks this, it’s been anything but true for a while now, particularly in the last two decades. In this day and age, with  more educated consumers, and a market focused on ethics and driven by brand perception, good publicity is good publicity and bad publicity is bad publicity; plus a potential brand decline and concurrent profit losses. So basically, bad publicity is very bad and only good publicity is actually good. The reality of this is such that it not only holds true with Corporate Brands, but Personal Brands too. Point in case; Harvey Weinstein. 

And what in the world does this have to do with the #BankWars you say? Everything. Many companies and brands make this ‘publicity’ assumption and start brand wars with people who are far better equipped and positioned to pummel them. It’s not that they don’t know that they are out-gunned, it is that they are hoping that regardless of how bad it goes, they would have gotten some easy publicity out of it.

Now while they do get some publicity out of it, when they don’t win those content or campaign wars, they emerge with brands that are weaker and worse off that before they started. In any scenario, that is an unintelligent way to use publicity.

Sterling bank no doubt knows that it does not rank in the league of banks like GTB and Access Bank and it understands that even Nigerians, know this, yet it made the unwitting decision to go after them anyways and got what it had coming.

Now the responses or #Clapbacks like we call them (or lack off ) were not without faults. Let’s take a look at the respective responses of all involved parties.


Now if we were managing a brand like GTB, all we would publish on social media would be this image below with no caption or our official brand promise as a caption. What we wouldn’t have done is what GTB did which was nothing.

Now obviously GTB silence strategy must have been predicated on the idea that they were completely above the conversation, but in the game of brand wars, there is a fine line between being above the fray and being complacent. When your brand position is challenged in any way, particularly by a competitor or a rival, you remind that rival and the public of what they already know, and that is that you are the best. As it turns out, we were not the only ones who thought GTB owed it to their brand to defend its honour.

A lot of young customers were disappointed at the bank’s decision to not react in anyway particularly because brand loyalty on their part, meant that they were rooting for GTB.


Now while we recommended that GTB not stay totally aloof, there is such a think as overkill and as much as we love ‘The Handler’ Union Bank appeared to be right at the ‘trying too hard’ address. While clapbacks on social media are open to corporates these days, there’s a level of dignity that should be maintained. Four posts for a comeback is three posts too many.

Exhibit 1

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