Public Relations

Bell Pottinger unceremoniously ejected from trade body PRCA, throwing its very survival into question

By John Glenday | Reporter

September 5, 2017 | 3 min read

PR specialists Bell Pottinger have suffered the ignominy of being ejected from the trade body established to look after industries interests in the UK, as the fallout from a squalid campaign in South Africa continues to wreak havoc on the firm’s reputation.

The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) took the unprecedented step of striking Bell Pottinger from their books in response, adding to questions about the fallen companies very future with PRCA director-general Francis Ingham observing that it was "highly questionable" whether it could survive.

Bell Pottinger

Bell Pottinger unceremoniously ejected from PRCA throwing its very survival in doubt

The stricken PR firm has been left flailing after it emerged that it had been involved in ‘inciting racial hatred’ in South Africa through a campaign orchestrated on behalf of local company Oakbay Capital, prompting a string of clients to jump ship.

The latest marketing news and insights straight to your inbox.

Get the best of The Drum by choosing from a series of great email briefings, whether that’s daily news, weekly recaps or deep dives into media or creativity.

Sign up

In the controversial campaign Bell Pottinger created the #WhiteMonopolyCapital hashtag in a bid to agitate against the presence of white-owned businesses in the capital – a pitch denounced by the opposition Democratic Alliance as a ‘hateful and divisive campaign to divide South Africa along the lines of race’.

This also saw Bell Pottinger violate two clauses in the PRCA charter, leading to its latest sanction, which follows hot on the heels of the resignation of chief executive James Henderson – a gesture deemed ‘insufficient’ by the PRCA.

Responding to its ejection Bell Pottinger said it accepted the ruling, but added: “the overwhelming majority of our partners and employees played no part in the Oakbay Capital account and have not been accused of breaching the PRCA code. Many of them will now consider applying for individual membership.”

Bell Pottinger has courted controversy by taking on controversial clients such as Asma al-Assad, the wife of Syrian president Bashir al-Assad and Oscar Pistorius after the South African athlete was charged with murder.

Public Relations

More from Public Relations

View all

Trending

Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +