An Olympics ad produced in the Falklands by Y&R's Buenos Aires office and screened by the Argentine Government has brought a humbling apology from WPP chief Sir Martin Sorrell.
The spot, said to have been made on spec by the WPP subsidiary, aired on the 30th anniversary of the May 2 sinking of Argentina's General Belgrano warship during the 1982 war.
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 to British soldiers.
The tagline reads: “To compete on English soil, we train on Argentine soil." Helpfully, there is an English translation.
WPP chief Sir Martin, knighted in 2000, told The Daily Telegraph, “The ad is totally, and I mean totally, unacceptable.
“The agency has formally apologised for any offence or pain caused. We are appalled and embarrassed by it.”
The last line of the commercial reads, "In homage to the fallen soldiers and war veterans."
The ad, which has proved wildly popular in Argentina, is believed to have been made surreptitiously while Zylberberg was in the Falklands for a marathon. One Drum correspondent suggested Sir Martin might be stripped of his knighthood.
Y&R is thought to have asked the Argentine Government to withdraw the ad. But fuel was added to the fire when when, according to the Wall Street Journal, Martín Mercado, creative director of Y&R in Argentina, said the agency produced the ad on spec, because "we knew that it was going to be very difficult for a client of ours to dare to put it on the air." The government of President Cristina Kirchner was a willing taker, he said.
Y&R retained an Argentine producer to do the filming.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague, 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.