Y&R global CEO David Sable (pictured) sends me this message about the controversy over the Y&R Argentina ad for the Argentine government featuring one of its Olympic athletes making an unscheduled training trip to Port Stanley, capital of the British-owned Falklands Islands or Argentina’s Malvinas, depending on your point of view. In the ad the protagonist did step-ups on a World War One war memorial.
Y&R continues to regret the pain Y&R Argentina’s ad has caused many around the world. We understand completely the heartfelt reaction to the spot and share in the public’s condemnation of it.
Our creative director in Argentina, Martin Mercado, would like to repeat his public apology: “While there is no doubt that Argentina views ‘Las Malvinas’ as part of Argentina, I accept it was a mistake to use the war memorial in the advertisement and I apologize unreservedly for that error.” Mercado said a bit more too.
We are doing everything we can to urge the Argentine government to remove it from the airwaves and will continue to do so. Clearly, any fees associated with this will be redirected towards an appropriate and relevant non-profit organization.
But, as far as I can see, Mercado hasn’t apologised for the ad, just the war memorial bit. Which isn’t really the point.
This is a monumental embarrassment for Y&R and WPP. Especially as South America is the fastest-growing bit of the advertising universe at the moment and set to become even more so as the 2014 World Cup in Brazil (and 2016 Olympics) moves closer.
WPP and Y&R can’t afford to get too heavy because most South Americans, and indeed most people in the US, can’t figure why the Brits own a few islands in the South Atlantic. During 1982’s Falklands War over the islands between Argentina and the UK, prime minister Margaret Thatcher had to work hard to twist the arm of her pal, US president Ronald Reagan, to support her.
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