A CONTROVERSIAL Argentinian television advert showing an Olympic hopeful training on a British war memorial in the Falklands has been condemned by the agency behind it.
Young & Rubicam said it had asked the Argentine government to pull the advertisement, accusing its creators of behaving “in a manner that is unacceptable to our company”.
The provocative 90-second clip says the athlete, Argentina hockey captain Fernando Zylberberg, is preparing for London 2012 on “Argentine soil” and shows him 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 advert, reportedly bought by the government and broadcast on Wednesday, calls the islands by their Argentinian name, the Malvinas, and carries the tagline: “To compete on British soil, we train on Argentinian soil” and ends with the words “homage to the fallen and the veterans of the Malvinas. Presidency of the Nation”.
A spokesman for Young & Rubicam said: “It has come to our attention that our agency in Argentina created an ad for the Argentine government that has deeply offended many people in the UK and around the world. We strongly condemn this work and have asked the Argentine government to pull the spot.
“While we don’t believe it was ever the intention of the ad’s creators to desecrate a war memorial, they behaved in a manner that is unacceptable to our company.
“Furthermore it is against our policy to be involved in anything that is politically motivated. In addition, this spot was also offensive to the Olympics spirit.
“Whatever it was the creators set out to highlight, what they produced is contrary to everything that we as a company stand for.”
Member of Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly Ian Hansen said the advert was filmed without permission.
He told the island newspaper Penguin News: “We determine our own future, and we will not be bullied by the Argentine government, neither by their attempts to undermine our economy, nor by their constant misrepresentation of the truth, nor by pieces of cheap and disrespectful propaganda such as this.
“It is hugely disappointing to see sport abused in this way, when it is so often seen as a vehicle for unity. It seems an act of desperation to sink to this.”
Foreign Secretary William Hague dismissed the advert as a “stunt” and accused Argentina of trying to misuse the Games for political purposes,.
“Argentina has had some diplomatic setbacks in the last few weeks,” he said.
“They have failed at summit of the Americas to get other countries – South and North America – to issue a declaration on the Falkland Islands.
“I think what is happening is they are looking for one or two stunts to try and make up for that or save a bit of pride somehow.
“But I don’t think trying to misuse the Olympics in some way for political purposes will go down very well with other countries.
“Of course, it doesn’t change our position on the Falkland Islands. We will always support the right to self-determination of the people of the Falkland Islands.”
The Foreign Office also criticised the advert saying: “We are saddened at this attempt by Argentina to exploit the Games. The Olympics is about sport and not politics. We are also dismayed at the insensitivity and disrespect demonstrated by the film-makers in their use of a war memorial in the Falklands as a prop.
“The people of the Falklands are British and have chosen to be so. They remain free to chose their own futures both politically and economically and have a right to self-determination.”
“There are three parties to this debate, not just two as Argentina likes to pretend. The islanders just can’t be written out of history.”