independent

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Businessman condemns Falklands ad

Argentine Olympic hockey player Fernando Zylberberg exercises in front of the Globe Tavern in Stanley (AP/Argentine Presidential Office)

British businessman Sir Martin Sorrell has condemned his own firm for a "totally unacceptable" Argentinian advert showing an Olympic hopeful training on a British war memorial in the Falkland Islands.

The head of communications giant WPP professed himself "appalled and embarrassed" at the 90-second advert, which says the athlete is preparing for London 2012 on "Argentine soil".

The brainchild of WPP-owned agency Young & Rubicam (Y&R), it shows Argentina hockey captain Fernando Zylberberg running in the Falklands capital, Port Stanley, and exercising on the island's Great War Memorial, which honours British sailors who died in the First World War.

The International Olympic Committee ( IOC) said it had contacted the Argentinian National Olympic Committee about the advert and received assurances that the Games would not be used as a political platform.

"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," the IOC said in a statement.

Zylberberg waded into the row on Friday night, telling Al Jazeera English that the advert was supposed to convey his country's feeling over the islands. "The message is that to every Argentine the Islands belong to Argentina. To me to be training in any other province or to do it over the islands is the same," he told the broadcaster.

Y&R said it had asked the Argentinian government to pull the spot, accusing its creators of behaving "in a manner that is unacceptable to our company". Y&R's global chief executive David Sable said it was impossible for the agency to see everything produced by its branches around the world but stressed that clear guidelines were in place.

"Our guidelines say you're not allowed to do anything political or politicised," he said. "We don't do political campaigns and we never have."

The advert, reportedly bought by the government and broadcast after being rejected by various companies, calls the islands by their Argentinian name, the Malvinas, and carries the tagline: "To compete on British soil, we train on Argentinian soil." It ends with the words: "Homage to the fallen and the veterans of the Malvinas. Presidency of the Nation."

Foreign Secretary William Hague dismissed it as a "stunt" and accused Argentina of trying to misuse the Games for political purposes.

Press Association

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