NEWS

11 Things You Really Need To Know About The 'Racially Divisive' Bell Pottinger Campaign

Journalists were targets.

04/09/2017 14:42 SAST | Updated 04/09/2017 15:21 SAST
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Billionaire businessman and newspaper publisher Atul Gupta. Photo: Gallo Images/Sunday Times/Kevin Sutherland

The findings from an independent review conducted by international law firm Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) LLP into the work done by Bell Pottinger on its Oakbay account in South Africa have been released, which you can read in full here, and judge for yourself.

Here are 11 things we think you need to know about what the investigation discovered.

1. The law firm found that Bell Pottinger began promoting a narrative around the existence of "economic apartheid" and the need for more "economic emancipation" in September 2016.

2. This was officially called the Economic Emancipation Campaign.

3. The campaign, as far as HSF found, amounted to one Twitter account, which reportedly had only 1000 followers, and one official blog.

4. Bell Pottinger was found to have never used Twitterbots, or instructed the use of Twitterbots, to promote economic emancipation.

5. Elements of the campaign were specifically targeted towards "wealthy white South African individuals or corporates".

6. The economic emancipation strategy was "potentially racially divisive and/or potentially offensive and was created in breach of relevant ethical principles".

7. Journalists were strategic targets of Bell Pottinger's campaign -- particularly those "who were asking questions in relation to the campaign".

8. Bell Pottinger's senior management were aware from the outset that the Guptas were "controversial".

9. The campaign should have been conducted by someone with geopolitical expertise, but was instead strategised by a specialist in corporate communications and reputation management.

10. BP's senior management were never aware of the racially divisive content of the campaigns.

11. BP, in response, will be establishing an in-house ethics committee, among other office initiatives.