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How to infuriate your boss, and the IOC

On Friday, Young & Rubicam headquarters apologized for a controversial spot by its Buenos Aires office. “We are deeply regretful for the pain this ad has caused,” the agency said.

What could have been so painful? This commercial:

This ad, which was commissioned by the Argentinian government, shows footage of Argentinian hockey player Fernando Zylberberg training for the 2012 London Olympics. It ends with the line, “To compete on English soil, we train on Argentinian soil.”

So far so provocative. But the really dangerous part of the ad is the location where it was shot. Type on screen identifies the location as las Islas Malvinas — known in English as the Falkland Islands.

The Falklands are recognized as a British territory, though they are part of a long-running dispute with Argentina, including the 1982 Faulklands War.

Condemnation of this commercial was swift and fierce. British and local politicians called the ad insensitive, particularly because of the use of a war memorial as as setting in the ad. The International Olympic Committee said in a statement to the AP, “The Olympic Games should not be a forum to raise political issues and the IOC regrets any attempts to use the spotlight of the games for that end.”

Among the harshest critics was Sir Martin Sorrell, the CEO of WPP, which owns Y&R. “I’m appalled by the ad and Y&R have issued an apology,” Sorrell said, according to The Guardian. “We are conducting an investigation and will decide what action to take.”

Serious stuff! It’s hard to think of any other significant advertisements that caused an international diplomatic incident of this magnitude.

If Y&R Buenos Aires wanted attention, they got it.

* * * *

Who created this ad?

Agency: Y&R Buenos Aires
Executive Creative Director: Martin Mercado
Creative Directors: Martin Goldberg, Dario Rial, and Diego Tuya
Copywriter: Nicolas Massimino
Art Director: Nicolas Ochoa
More credits via Creativity.

Who signed off on it?

With the client listed as “Presidencia de la Nacion,” one assumes it was reviewed by Argentinian president Cristina Fern├índez de Kirchner or her staff.

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under Advertising, Politics

One comment

  1. You have to wonder if the creative team slept through the 1982 war — or if maybe they weren’t even around for that one.

    In your face kinda advertising — only they’re in the face of the Olympic host nation, which maybe isn’t the best strategy.

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