The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ordered First National Bank to withdraw its Steve advertisements as they are harmful to children.
“The potential harm in the current matter lies in the possibility that children could interpret the advertising to effectively condone ridiculing anybody named Steve merely because of their name,” the authority said.
It said about 20 complaints were lodged against FNB’s Steve campaign which was broadcast on radio and television, and printed on billboards.
The theme for the campaign focused on how people should Un-Steve themselves by moving to FNB rather than “suffering the frustrations they currently endure”.
The complainants argued that the campaign was “insulting to any person named Steve as it portrays such people as idiots, boring and dull, which might cause such people to have self-esteem issues”.
They also complained that the campaign could result in children named Steve being bullied.
FNB submitted that the un-Steve yourself campaign did not discriminate against people who are named Steve, Stephen or Steven.
The bank said that, although it was unfortunate that the campaign could cause potential harm to children called Steve, it could not be blamed for bullying as it was a “social concern on playgrounds”.
“Bullies will find any angle to expose, and it is an issue for the management of schools and parents to deal with it, and not an advertising regulator,” it said.