Complaints over Australia Day lamb advertisement dismissed

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 20th January 2016

The Advertising Standards Board (ASB or ‘Ad Standards’) has determined that Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) has not breached its code of ethics despite receiving more than 600 complaints against its Australia Day advertisement promoting the eating lamb.


The television commercial features SBS news reader Lee Lin Chin and a cast of others who launch “Operation Boomerang” in an effort to bring Australians home to eat lamb on Australia Day.


Complaint one: offence to vegans


In relation to the complaints that the advertisement offended vegans (the advertisement depicts vegan food being “torched” – set on fire). Ad Standards however dismissed these types of complaints saying:


“In the majority of the Board’s view a depiction of torching of the vegan food is an exaggerated and humorous response to the food that is not lamb – a portrayal of the food being less preferable to the advertised product, and not inciting hatred towards people who are vegan.”


Complaint two: offence to Indigenous Australians


Some complaints centred around the use of the term “operation boomerang” with some complaints saying it was offensive to Indigenous Australians. The ASB refuted this saying “In making a determination about concerns about the term boomerang, the Board noted that most members of the community would be familiar with the origins of a boomerang and its connection to Indigenous Australians,” ASB stated.

“The Board also noted however the Macquarie Dictionary definition of boomerang to include a colloquial meaning of ‘something that is expected to be returned.’ The Board noted that other than the use of the word boomerang the advertisement does not depict, refer to or parody any Indigenous Australians or Aboriginal culture,” ASB continued.

In the Board’s view the use of the tagline or phrase “Operation Boomerang” as used in the advertisement is not a reference to Indigenous Australians but is meant as a reference to something which is to be returned,” ASB said.


Complaint three: violence


The board also received complaints stating that the advertisement was violent as it includes imagery of a SWAT team member using a flamethrower but dismissed this reasoning that “In its careful consideration of these concerns the Board noted that the advertisement is clearly a depiction of a fantasy situation where SWAT style teams are bringing Australians back to Australia for Australia Day,” ASB said.


“The Board agreed there are exaggerated and unrealistic situations which have a look and feel of a movie and that scenes of a SWAT member coming in through a window or ceiling are clearly in this vein,” ASB stated.


“Similarly breaking down the door of the man in the vegan scene is consistent with the fantasy movie feel of the advertisement. In the majority Board’s view these images are all clearly fantasy and unrealistic and are not depictions of violence nor are they likely to encourage similar behaviour in real life,” ASB said.


MLA welcomes ruling


Meat and Livestock Australia, the representative body of meat processors in Australia, said that it welcomes the news that the advertisement will not be removed from television screens.


“Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) welcomes the decision by the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) that says the Australia Day lamb advertisement has not breached the AANA Code of Ethics,” a spokesperson from MLA said.


“As a responsible advertiser and marketer, MLA operates in compliance with the provisions of the AANA Code – and this year’s Australia Day lamb campaign is no different. The role of the campaign remains to promote and build demand for Australian lamb, which is some of the best quality lamb in the world,” the spokesperson continued.


“The advertisement has been viewed more than 4 million times across media channels and feedback remains overwhelmingly positive. MLA is a not-for-profit organisation responsible for delivering marketing, and research and development programs for Australia’s red meat industry. MLA encourages Australians to enjoy quality Australian lamb this Australia Day,” the spokesperson concluded.