Racial abuse on Lewis Hamilton: the agency connection

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A website – Pincha la Rueda de Hamilton, or Burst Hamilton’s Tyre- has been in the news over racist abuse of F1 driver Lewis Hamilton. The Guardian reports that the site is owned by the Spanish branch of TBWA, part of Omnicom. The website, invites visitors to place a virtual nail on the track at Interlagos, the setting for Sunday’s title showdown with Felipe Massa in the Brazil Grand Prix. The site carries a message board directing abuse at the 23-year-old Briton. A spokesman in the New York office of TBWA said it did not know why the site, designed and owned by its interactive marketing branch in Spain, had not been monitored to stop racists using it to abuse Hamilton.

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Am surprised too. While it’s impossible to monitor every single web activity around the world pertaining to your brand, let me contrast this with two recent incidents:

I wrote about a TVC created for GoodYear by the agency Leagas Delaney. Within 24 hours I received an email from the agency’s legal eagle asking me to remove the video since it was not authorized for release as yet. It was on YouTube and maybe they asked for the video to be removed too.

Couple of months ago, I posted an ad supposedly created by TBWA for Nissan. I received an email within hours asking me to remove the ad since it was scam. When I asked the lady who emailed me as to how they monitored all the mentions of the ad across hundred’s of ad blogs around the world, I was simply told: ‘Google alerts & keen eyed colleagues’.

It’s hard to believe that such racial hatred is even allowed in this day and age. That too, from a multi-national agency. I guess head must roll. If only there were ‘keen-eyed colleagues’ in Spain who alerted the bosses at TBWA about the repercussions.

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