WPP should honour those who died in the Falklands
There are many reasons why Y&R’s spot for the Argentine Government, filmed in the Falkland Islands, is wrong. Aside from being completely the opposite to the spirit of the Olympic ideal (and one that is being expensively espoused at the moment by Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R in the UK), it is also hugely disrespectful to the 255 members of the British armed forces and three Islanders who died in the bloody conflict.
The scene where the Argentine athlete exercises on a memorial to British soldiers of an earlier war is particularly gut-wrenching.
To his credit, the WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell was quick to denounce the ad once it had become apparent that his Y&R agency in Buenos Aires was behind the stunt. The network is also pleading, without success so far, for the Argentine Government to pull the spot.
But the fact remains the damage has been done – old sores have been opened, particularly for Falklands veterans, and politicians have become involved escalating the offensive ad to a diplomatic issue.
For a man who is said to be an expert at micro-management the fact that Y&R Buenos Aires felt that it could go ahead and make this ad, despite being part of a UK-based agency network and therefore presumably aware of the embarrassment it would cause the ultimate boss, Sorrell’s anger is understandable.You could argue that it shows a lack of respect from the management at Y&R Buenos Aires for its pay-master.
Given that WPP as a whole is set to benefit from the Olympics across its range of clients, and the widespread offence that this outpost of Y&R has caused, surely the tenure of this team is unsustainable. It might also be a welcome gesture if WPP made some public act of contrition by donating to a Forces charity – the South Atlantic Medal Association or Combat Stress, for example – to help those still affected by their part in liberating the Islands from occupation.
The need for this is even more apparent when you consider that a WPP agency – JWT – has recently been hired to handle recruitment for the British Army, many of whom will serve protecting the democratic wishes of Falkland Islanders.