Argentina drops Y&R Malvinas ad hockey player

The saga of Y&R Argentina’s ‘Malvinas’ ad for the Argentine government that has so annoyed (among others) the British government, WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell, hapless and seemingly helpless network managers at Y&R and the International Olympic Committee, has taken a couple of new twists.

First the offending Argentine hockey player Fernando Zylberberg (pictured) has dropped by the national team for a forthcoming tournament. It’s highly unlikely that an Argentine hockey team would now be allowed to compete in this summer’s London Olympics with Fernando in it. There will doubtless be calls in the UK for Argentina to be banned from the games entirely, which would be everyone’s worst nightmare as such a ban could well lead to a South American boycott. The next Olympics and World Cup are to be held in Brazil (in 2016 and 2014 respectively) which is a further headache for the sporting establishment.

So Zylberberg’s training routine, which consisted of jogging up and down a Port Stanley war memorial, could turn out to be the centrepiece of the most expensive commercial in history.

But even more bizarrely there are reports that WPP-owned Y&R Argentina actually made the offending commercial on spec and then hawked it around various clients. Only the Argentine government was brave enough (or more likely daft enough) to say yes. And how silly, and out of control, does that make creative director Martin Mercado and his mates look? Mercado is no ingenue, having worked at McCann and TBWA and won a Cannes Lion in his time.

Mercado (pictured) says Y&R Argentina is both creative (which it obviously is, although not necessarily in a good way) and independent, which actually it isn’t. Even though owner WPP/Y&R seems completely unable to do anything about his antics.

In a way he’s won, so far at least. He’s become famous and will no doubt find other employers in South America when Y&R eventually gets round to firing him. Unless, of course, Argentina gets booted out of the Olympics, in which case his victory might prove short-lived.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.