After Sorrell Criticizes Own Y&R Shop, Argentina Attacks U.K.

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Despite complaints by Martin Sorrell, Y&R and the British government, Argentina refuses to stop running a controversial 90-second spot in which an Argentine athlete secretly trains for the upcoming London Olympics on the Falkland Islands, where Britain and Argentina fought a 1982 war over who owns the tiny islands, also known as the Malvinas.

Mr. Sorrell was quoted in the U.K. media saying he was "appalled and embarrassed" by the Y&R Buenos Aires spot, aired on the 30th anniversary of the British sinking of Argentina's General Belgrano warship, with the tagline "To compete on English soil, we train on Argentine soil." Mr. Sorrell's WPP Group owns Y&R.

Argentina's Minister of Foreign Relations, Hector Timerman, issued a rambling statement condemning Britain -- and Rupert Murdoch. In the statement, he said that Philip Hammond, the U.K.'s defense secretary, had "chosen Sky News to publicly ask for our government's apology." He noted that Sky News, and several newspapers in Australia, the U.S. and the U.K. that reported the story all have Mr. Murdoch as a shareholder.

"These are the same journalists who stole emails, tapped telephones and paid for information that belonged to important members of [the British] government's political opposition," Mr. Timerman said.

In Buenos Aires, local admen were mostly talking about how Y&R Buenos Aires made the ad on spec and shopped it around to various marketers, who all rejected it, including Nike, a longtime client of another agency, BBDO Argentina.

"It's like me hitting on your wife," said Gabriel Dreyfus, a well-known Argentine ad executive who was once in partnership with Y&R in Buenos Aires.

The agency finally found a taker in the Argentine government.

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