WPP is facing a U.K. media firestorm over a Falklands Olympics ad produced by its Y&R Buenos Aires office on behalf of Argentina. The spot, which just aired on the 30th anniversary of the May 2 sinking of the country’s General Belgrano warship during the 1982 conflict between the U.K. and Argentina, is being accused of politicizing the Summer Olympic Games that take place in London in July and August.
The commercial features Fernando Zylberberg, a member of Argentina’s field hockey team, training at Falkland sites including the Globe Tavern, a British-style pub; the Penguin News; and, most delicately, a War Memorial set up to honor the British lives lost during the conflict as well as the Argentineans who died. The tagline reads: “To compete on English soil, we train on Argentine soil."
“The ad is totally, and I mean totally, unacceptable,” WPP chief Martin Sorrell told The Daily Telegraph. “The agency has formally apologized for any offense or pain caused. We are appalled and embarrassed by it.”
Y&R has asked the Argentinean government to pull the ad.
The commercial has drawn rebuke from no less than British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who told Sky News it was a “stunt” from a country that has been unable to garner support from other countries in issuing a declaration about the Falklands.