WPP's Sorrell Participates In Olympics Relay

by , Jul 10, 2012, 4:09 PM
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olympicringsSir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP, will participate in the London Olympics Torch Relay currently ongoing in the lead-up to the games, which begin July 27 and run through Aug. 12. The CEO's participation in the event is the second recent story linking WPP to the games.

Y&R -- a WPP agency -- earlier created a controversial ad for Argentina about the games, much to Sorrell's chagrin.  

Sorrell is one of 8,000 people who will share the duty of relaying the Olympic Flame as it journeys across the UK. He will carry the torch through the London borough of Redbridge on July 22, according to the London Olympics site.

Sorrell did not comment directly on his selection to participate, but WPP confirmed he received an invitation from the International Olympic Committee to participate in the relay, and that he was "delighted" to accept.

Word of Sorrell’s participation in the relay follows by two months a more controversial Olympics story also involving WPP. At the time, he said he was "appalled."

The earlier incident involved the Buenos Aires office of Y&R, which created a highly politicized TV spot about the upcoming London games. The ad was critical of the UK’s continuing claims to the Falkland Islands over the objections of Argentina, which paid for the ad that aired on outlets throughout the country.

At the time Sorrell, who also said he was “embarrassed” by the ad, was quoted by British press outlets as saying the company would investigate the matter. At deadline, reps from WPP and Y&R did not respond to queries about the status of that investigation.

The two countries fought a war over the Falklands in the 1980s. The UK won and retained possession of the islands, which has remained a sore spot with Argentina.

The ad featured an Argentine athlete training in the Falklands. He was shown frowning at a British flag and running past British images, such as an English pub and a red telephone booth, then running up the steps of a memorial dedicated to those who died fighting the war. The ad concludes with the tagline: "to compete on British soil, we train on Argentine soil."

In early May, when news of the ad broke, Y&R New York issued a statement apologizing for the ad, calling it "unacceptable" and "offensive to the Olympic spirit." The British Foreign office also condemned the ad as a political "stunt."

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