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>> It calls itself a leading reputation management agency. Now, top British PR firm Bell Pottinger has its own reputation to manage after being judged by its trade body. To have deliberately stoked racial tensions in South Africa. The firm expelled from the public relations and communications association on Monday.
Following work in support of president Jacob Zuma and his ruling party.>>
That campaign portrayed Zuma's opponents as agents of white monopoly capital and coined slogans of econimic apartheid. Such sound bites gained traction in a country where the white minority still wields disproportionate economic power two decades after the end of apartheid.
South Africa's main opposition, the Democratic Alliance, complained to the UK's PRCA about the campaign. Prompting the trade body to expel Bell Pottinger for what PRCA Director General Francis Ingham, called completely unethical and unprofessional work.>> It's the worst work I've ever seen. I've been Director General of PRCA for ten years.
I've seen nothing worse than it and therefore we thought the ultimate sanction of expelling them, immediately. And saying they wish to reapply for membership, they can't do so for at least five years.>> While the firm can continue to operate as normal, the ruling is likely to hit perceptions of it in an industry the trades on reputation.
And Ingham said, the reputational damage from the ruling will be enormous. Bell Pottinger Chief Executive James Henderson resigned on Monday. And the company, whose clients include Syrian first lady Asma al-Assad and the Pinochet Foundation. Has accepted there are lessons to be learned and have apologized. Though it disputes the basis on which the ruling was made.