Y&R’s Argentine Olympics Spot Sparks Controversy for ‘Playing Politics’

By Bob Marshall Comment

The above new spot for Argentina’s Olympic team from Y&R New York Buenos Aires is being called by some “beneath contempt,” “tasteless,” “feral and disgusting behavior” and “designed to offer maximum offence and contrary to both the Olympic spirit and all sense of human decency.” Harsh words, yes, but perhaps a brief history lesson will offer justification for those who have been deeply disturbed by the images shown in this ad, which was commissioned by the Argentine government.

See, while the text in the spot suggests that the athlete is training on Argentine soil, he’s in fact doing so on the Falkland Islands. This is quite significant when you consider that the 2012 Olympics’ host county, England, fought and won a war for the Islands in 1982 after Argentina attempted to invade them. Although England and Argentina resumed diplomatic relationship in the early 90s, the Falklands are still under dispute, and Argentina continues to lay claim to the land despite islanders voicing their plea to remain British citizens.

To add insult to injury, the athlete in the spot uses a World War I memorial dedicated to fallen British soliders to bolster his training efforts. In response to the public outcry, Y&R has issued an apology today, saying they were “disturbed” by it. Meanwhile, WPP chief Sir Martin Sorrell issued a statement saying, “The ad is totally, and I mean totally, unacceptable. The agency has formally apologized for any offense or pain caused. We are appalled and embarrassed by it.”

Taking into account the fact that last month marked the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War, this probably couldn’t have been timed worse. The government of Argentina has not issued an apology. See more, including a harsh criticism from Falkland National Sports Council chair, Mike Summers, here.