In a damning statement, the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) said on Tuesday that Bell Pottinger — whose clients range from multinational businesses to governments, public sector organisations, entrepreneurs and some of the world’s richest individuals — had “brought the PR and communications industry into disrepute”.
It followed a complaint by South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), about the PR company’s campaign for the family which portrayed opponents of President Jacob Zuma as agents of “white monopoly capital” and coined slogans of “economic apartheid”.
Banning the firm from its membership for at least five years, PRCA director general Francis Ingham said “PRCA has never before passed down such a damning indictment of an agency’s behaviour”.
“This outcome reflects the huge importance that the PRCA places on the protection of ethical standards in the business of PR and communications,” he said.
In response to the decision, Bell Pottinger said it “accepts that there are lessons to be learned but disputes the basis on which the ruling was made”.
Bell Pottinger said it would now “refocus on delivering outstanding work for our clients and looking after our people”