First National Bank has refuted reports that the bank paid and coached children to make negative statements against the ANC and government.
"Some media reports fail to differentiate between the TV advert itself and the survey interview clips and it is important to provide this clarity," Bernice Samuels, FNB chief marketing officer said on Tuesday via a statement.
Samuels was responding to a report by the New Age that alleged FNB paid participants in its "You Can Help" advertising campaign.
FNB chief executive Michael Jordaan went further and described the New Age report as a "lazy repetition of story without checking facts" in a tweet on Tuesday. Jordaan could not be reached for further comment.
Samuels claimed that although contributors to the main "There will be a day" advert were indeed compensated for their services, respondents in the controversial video clips which accompanied the campaign were not.
"The children who took part in the TV advert received performance fees, as is standard industry practice," she added. "We once again confirm that the TV advert 'There will be a day' is scripted. The advert was scripted based on key themes from the survey conducted by an independent research firm."
The ruling party's reaction
The ANC and government reacted strongly to the video excerpts that ran with the main advert, labelling the bank as confrontational and unpatriotic.
FNB removed the videos from its YouTube channel in response to the ruling party's stance, saying it feared for the safety of the participants.
The bank also issued an apology to the ANC and government after meeting with the ruling party at its headquarters.
The majority of contributors in the online videos illustrated South Africa's challenges from unemployment to high rates of crime.
"South African people need to wake up – 1994 is gone! It is gone," Christopher – one of the participants – said in a video. "This very minute South Africa faces unemployment, poverty and nationwide strikes, and a government rife with corruption."
Solutions for South Africa
Along with their views, participants also offered ideas on solutions for South Africa. "Stop voting for the same government in hopes of change – instead change your hopes to a government that has the same hopes as us," said Tiara, another participant.
Samuels said the clips were a sample of the responses from 1 300 respondents interviewed in the run-up to the launch of FNB's advertising campaign and that their replies were their own views and were not scripted or censored.
"Importantly, the participants to the survey were never advised of who had commissioned the survey. We confirm that the children were not paid to participate in the survey," she said.