5 Things you need to know about the latest Bell Pottinger developments

A few months ago, PR firm Bell Pottinger admitted that they were misled by senior employees to run a campaign for Oakbay Investments (Pty), a holding company for the Gupta family’s businesses in South Africa. The campaign was meant to highlight issues of economic emancipation and instead fuelled racial tension in South Africa.

International law firm Herbert Smith Freehills published its findings on Monday, 4 September and concluded that Bell Pottinger’s South African campaign was “potentially racially divisive” and breached ethical principles. Here are five things that have been revealed.

1. Bell Pottinger’s South African campaign had material meant to divide South Africans.

In a two-page document, the law firm concluded that Bell Pottinger’s SA campaign included material meant to divide South Africans. Their statement read: “Certain material that we have seen that was created for the campaign was negative or targeted towards wealthy white South African individuals or corporates and/or was potentially racially divisive and/or potentially offensive and was created in breach of relevant ethical principles.”

2. Bell Pottinger did not invent the term “white monopoly”

“Whilst that phrase was, on occasion, used by the BP account team as part of the economic emancipation campaign we have seen no evidence to suggest that the term was one that BP invented.”

3. The PR campaign also breached ethical principles

“We have seen evidence that the BP account team used other tactics in relation to the economic emancipation campaign which arguably breached the relevant ethical principles, including taking steps which might mislead or undermine journalists who were asking questions in relation to the campaign,” said the statement.

4. Bell Pottinger expelled from UK Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA)

Due to the work it had done for Oakbay and the Gupta family, the PRCA announced that Bell Pottinger’s membership had been terminated and the company has been banned for five years.

5. The CEO of Bell Pottinger James Henderson announced his resignation

He said in a statement that he felt “deeply let down” by colleagues who misled him about the content of the Oakbay account.

Check out some of the responses from Twitter:



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