JWT Damages Sacred Inca Sun Clock While Shooting Beer Ad at Machu Picchu

Um, oops?

Advertising rule No. 1: When filming, try to avoid damaging sacred Inca sun clocks.

Machu Picchu, the fabled lost city of the Incas in Peru, was unscathed by the plundering of the Spanish in the 1500s, but the same cannot be said of its experience with J. Walter Thompson. The agency's Lima office, shooting an ad there on Sept. 10 for Cus queña beer, dropped a 1,000-pound crane on the treasured Intihuatana sun clock, chipping off a piece about the size of a ballpoint pen.

"Everyone feels terrible that this happened," says a JWT representative. But he denied early news reports suggesting JWT may have violated the terms of its permit by bringing in the crane. "We had the proper permit for the equipment that was used, including the crane," he says. Reports also indicated criminal charges may be brought, but the JWT representative said he was unaware of any such developments late last week.

Amrit Chidakash, who runs www.mpicchu.org, a Web site devoted to Machu Picchu's protection, places the blame on Peru's National Institute of Culture for issuing the permit in the first place. "Nothing could epitomize more perfectly the mismanagement of Machu Picchu," he says. "This kind of treatment of a World Heritage Site should never, ever have been contemplated."