PR and advertising lessons learnt from #BankWars

 By Seun Bisuga

Sterling Bank took a PR and marketing jibe against First Bank, GT Bank, Union Bank and Access Bank to spark a Twitter war

Sterling Bank took a PR and marketing jibe at First Bank, GT Bank, Union Bank and Access Bank to spark a Twitter war

As a public relations, advertising and marketing spectacle Sterling Bank succeeded in selling itself to prospective and existing customers while slaying its competition by telling them that they could become stars while aiming for the moon.

The projection of Sterling Bank’s logo also shows that they are way ahead of competition in banking and technology terms while the others are on ground trying to grapple with ways to ascend. “In shooting for the moon men become stars,” Sterling Bank wrote with the catch phrase Welcome to #SterlingBank.

For those of us domiciled in Nigeria, we can kinda agree that the advert does not tell the true story of the banks because Sterling Bank isn’t rated in the same breathe as Union Bank, First Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank and Access Bank but they got one on their competition with that ad.

They got the public relations stunt, they got their name on almost all websites for free, they got social media influencers writing about the ad and mentioning their name for free, they got prospective customers clicking on their website, they marketed their treasury bills amongst other products.

Sterling Bank trended at number one on Twitter and got new followers. Add over 1500 retweets, over 3000 likes and hundreds of thousands of impressions. And they got all this in the bag for free. Not that I like their approach but it kinda worked this time, mainly because no one saw it coming.

How Did Other Banks React

For starters, the other banks saw it as a beef, they chose to clapback with emotions rather than creativity. They chose to reply with sentiments instead of approaching it as an advertising opportunity to reach customers on Twitter because many users were drooling over the #BankWars.


First Bank’s response was reflective of the African mentality of “Se o mo age mi ni”. The bank threw age and elders sentiment into it demanding respect from Sterling because they think they had earned it. But when it comes to creativity there are no elders, what we have are brains, approach, ideas and delivery; all which First Bank’s response provided little.

Here’s First Bank’s response, “What an elder sees while sitting, a child cannot see even if he travels to the moon. #RespectYourElders #YouFirst

Not satisfied First Bank tweeted a GIF of a rocket crashing right from the skies. The GIF had the inscription: “Mr Burns Groaning.”

READ: Demi Lovato awake in Los Angeles hospital after overdose

Both their responses were not top notch and although they got retweets and likes, it was not because of its creativity it was because they were the first to reply and Twitter users wanted more from this new series.


I’d score First Bank 5 on a scale of 1-10. They didn’t have to respond very quickly and with little creativity. I guess it’s a lesson learnt for the leading Nigerian bank now.


Like First Bank, Union Bank too were conscious of their age and they sure brandished it very quickly. With a picture of a dog using its paws to close the mouth of another dog, the bank wrote, “When the elders speak… #SimplerSmarterSAFERBank”

Union Bank was suggesting that they are the elders and when they speak Sterling Bank should keep shut. No doubt Union Bank are older than Sterling Bank in terms of the year of establishment, size, reach etc but they clearly were the younger when it came to creativity.

But as if to show their status, Union Bank tweeted again, “There’s no coming back after “Ether” or “Story of Adidon”…settle down now, take a deep breath. Back to counting this Naira, Dollars and Pounds.”

Even Nas who dissed Jay Z with Ether did not sell as much as Jigga did. There’s a lesson there. They might have Naira, Dollars and Pounds but they sure are not attracting new customers with those lines.


Like First Bank, they did themselves little public relations or advertising good. It was straight up beef and so I score them a 5, on a scale of 1 – 10.


In rap diss, rappers try to outdo themselves by stating what they own, what they wear, who they rool with and why they are number one, this is exactly what Access Bank attempted to do. “We will travel on an imaginary rocket too, if we were a one-customer Microfinance Bank; but with ten million customers and counting, we rather bring the galaxy to you!.”

First, they labelled Sterlin Bank a one-customer microfinance  bank when in fact they are lot bigger than that before going on to state that they had about ten million customers and counting. These lines did not reflect any creativity at all.

But they did save face with their last line, “we rather bring the galaxy to you”. This line shows that as a customer you don’t have to move from the comfort of your home because your bank will bring all your banking needs to you.

That’s good punch line for customers who dislike the banking hall and all the hassles that comes with visiting the bank.


Access Bank managed to redeem itself with its last line which offered some marketing. It showed strength of the bank and comfort customers can enjoy. I score them 7.


GTBank took its time to reply Sterling Bank and its response was more of a comedy than anything else. After over 30 hours of waiting, GTB came up with a response that had little marketing, advertising and public relations value, although it showed some technology know-how.

A character tried using a Sterling Bank ATM on a GTB machine and the card got seized. The only thing the response showed is that GTB has better technology than Sterling Bank and nothing more it was far from a befitting response especially after it had to wait for longer.


Showing technology know-how is not enough. We know that you can use Sterling Bank cards on GTB machines and so that didn’t cut it. I score GTB a 5.

Hopefully, the #BankWars will result in a more conscientious customer service delivery across board.

I don’t expect everyone to agree with my assessment and analysis, leaving a comment will be very helpful. Thank you

Seun Bisuga is a journalist, social media analyst and writer.

Please follow and like us:

Leave a Reply