Monday, November 03, 2008

6118: Omnicom Racing Strong With Racism.

Check out this story from The Guardian. A brief MultiCultClassics commentary immediately follows…

Website used to abuse Lewis Hamilton owned by global ad agency

By Giles Tremlett and Matthew Taylor

The website at the centre of controversy over racist abuse of British formula one driver Lewis Hamilton is owned by a New York-based advertising agency, TWBA, which is part of the world’s largest media services group, Omnicom, the Guardian can reveal.

The site belongs to the Spanish branch of the advertising firm. It was closed down last night after hundreds of abusive messages were posted, some of which referred to Hamilton as a “half-breed” and others which used the n-word. He hopes to become youngest ever world champion at the final race of the season tomorrow.

Last night cabinet minister Andy Burnham led calls for action against the abuse. TBWA operates in 77 countries with 12,000 staff in 258 offices. Its clients include Absolut Vodka, Apple, Adidas, McDonald’s, Michelin, Sony PlayStation, and Singapore Airlines. Last year, Omnicom’s revenue was $12.7bn.

A spokesman in the New York office 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.

Among comments on the site was someone calling himself Carillo, telling Hamilton: “Kill yourself in your car.” A message from Alberto says: “I hope you run over your dad in the first pitstop, Hamilton.”

“This is not what we condone as a company,” said TBWA spokesman Jeremy Miller; it would take “appropriate action” once it identified who was responsible for the website.

Renault’s Fernando Alonso last night condemned the racist supporters. “If it’s true, obviously this is not possible [acceptable],” the Spaniard told reporters at the Brazilian Grand Prix. “In 2008 we cannot have these kind of people in our world. It’s not only formula one, not only sport, it’s normal life as well.”

Burnham, the culture, media and sport secretary, said: “This is a crucial race and the whole country will be behind him. I’m very concerned to hear reports of sites potentially fuelling racist abuse. The authorities must take the toughest possible action against racism in sport.”

Keith Vaz, chairman of Labour’s ethnic minority taskforce, urged foreign secretary David Miliband to lodge a formal protest, saying it was clear the site – Pincha la Rueda de Hamilton, or Burst Hamilton’s Tyre – was set up to destabilise the driver. “The Spanish government cannot allow this organised and systematic racism to continue. These people must be widely condemned and the websites they use shut down immediately.”

The sport’s governing body, the FIA, and Hamilton’s McLaren team condemned the attacks as “abusive and hateful.”


Here’s the most outrageous excerpt from the story:

“This is not what we condone as a company,” said TBWA spokesman Jeremy Miller; it would take “appropriate action” once it identified who was responsible for the website.

Really? When you consider Omnicom’s history with homophobia, diversity and multicultural marketing, well, this latest scenario seems to exemplify exactly what they condone as a company. Can’t wait to see the appropriate action. Probably involves an immediate promotion and salary boost.

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