Latin America & Caribbean

Agency condemns its own Falklands advert

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Media captionThe advert shows Argentine hockey captain Fernando Zylberberg running in the Falklands capital Port Stanley

A British-owned advertising agency has condemned its team in Argentina over an "offensive" video showing an Argentine athlete training in the Falklands.

The political advert shows hockey captain Fernando Zylberberg preparing for London 2012.

It ends with: "To compete on English soil we train on Argentine soil."

Young & Rubicam, owned by UK company WPP, said: "We strongly condemn this work and have asked the Argentine government to pull the spot."

The 90-second video - broadcast in Argentina on Wednesday night - shows Zylberberg running in Port Stanley and exercising outside the Globe Tavern.

The advert, which also features a brief shot of him training on the steps of a World War I memorial, is the latest move by Argentina to reassert its claim to the British overseas territory which it calls the Malvinas.

'Appalled and embarrassed'

"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," a spokesman for Young & Rubicam said.

"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."

He added: "Whatever it was the creators set out to highlight, what they produced is contrary to everything that we as a company stand for."

Sir Martin Sorrell, founder and chief executive of communications giant WPP, meanwhile, told the Daily Telegraph: "The ad is totally, and I mean totally, unacceptable.

"The agency has formally apologised for any offence or pain caused. We are appalled and embarrassed by it."

The advert, shot by Fly Films, a company with previous experience in undercover filming, .

They include UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond who told Sky News: "I think it's tasteless, it's provocative and very insulting to the many British soldiers, sailors and airmen who gave their lives protecting the Falkland Islands."

The advert's makers went to the islands in March ostensibly to film a marathon that included many international runners, including Mr Zylberberg and other Argentine athletes.

They stayed for a week and filmed secretly around the Falklands.

Argentina's leading newspapers, La Nacion and Clarin, have reported that the piece was not commissioned by the government.

It was first offered to private companies, who preferred to stay away from the controversial video.

It was then brought to the attention of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who bought it and broadcast it on Wednesday night.

Mr Zylberberg told a radio station he "only found out the day before the broadcast that it would be used as a political advert by the president's office".

Last month saw the 30th anniversary of the start of the Falklands War, when Argentine forces invaded the islands before being defeated by a British task force.

Argentina wants the UK to negotiate on sovereignty, but the British government says it will not discuss the issue without the agreement of the Falkland islanders.