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04 May 2012

Argentina's Falklands ad and other Olympic controversies


The UK media has been dominated by news of a TV commercial sponsored by the government of Argentina that sees members of the Argentine Olympic team training on the Falklands.

"To compete on English soil, we train on Argentine soil."

For readers outside the UK, many of whom will have little idea where the Falkland Islands are, or the sensitivities that surround the governance of the Islands. The spot, which was apprently filmed in secret, sees an Argentinian athlete running past various landmarks in the capital city Port Stanley. One particular sequence that has caused particular ire is a scene that shows one athlete performing step-ups on a memorial for British servicemen who died in the 1981 conflict.


The spot, filmed by Y&R, has even come under fire from WPP Chairman Sir Martin Sorrell, who has been quoted as being "appalled and embarassed."

Some commentators have written off the film as a desperate attempt to stir-up a patriotic by President Kirchner using the highly visible platform of the Olympics. Despite the many laws and statute that exist to protect the sporting purity of the games, there are always some adverts that cause trouble...

Spain upsets the Chinese

Ads for the 2008 Beijing games appeared in a Spanish sporting newspaper depicted the national basketball team posing in their official kit, pulling 'slanty eye' faces to the camera. The IOC were not impressed.

Spanish team

Nike upsets the athletes

Atlanta, 1996, and Nike puts a foot in it with a billboard that bears the slogan: "You don't win silver, you lose gold," which attracted complaints from bronze and silver medal winners from previous games. 

Nike upsets the children

The 2000 Olympics in Sydney saw U.S Olympic runner Suzy Favor Hamilton appear in a controversial TV spot for Nike that saw her tackle a chainsaw-wielding maniac in slasher-movie style. The ad's punchline, "why sport? You'll live longer" failed to turn the scary ad into the joke in which it was intended. 


Reebok doesn't upset anyone, but backs the wrong man

Reebok spent millions on an ad campaign (Dan & Dave) that championed the athletes Dan O’Brien and Dave Johnson ahead of the 1992 Barcelona games. The two American decathletes were expected to perform well but O’Brien, who held a world record in the sport, failed spectacularly when he was unable to clear the pole vault. He scored zero points for the event and failed to qualify for Barcelona.  



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