The most complained about ad in Australia’s history has been deemed fit for viewing and not in any breach of the code of ethics.
Yes, MLA’s Australia Day ad is still making news, but now it’s not the complainants making the news (all 600-and-something of them), but the Advertising Standards Bureau, dismissing all complaints about violence against vegans, racism and more.
At a meeting of the advertising standards board on Monday, the ASB came to the decision, releasing hundreds of pages of explanation and documentation to justify its decision. The board’s decision covers all versions of the advertisement.
The longest version, which only runs online, is two minutes, and has amassed around 1.7 million views on YouTube. The television version of the advertisement runs for 30 seconds.
The MLA advertising campaign encouraging people to eat lamb has become an annual event on Australia Day.
In a statement the MLA said it welcomed the decision.
“The advertisement has been viewed more than 4 million times across media channels and feedback remains overwhelmingly positive,” it said.
In case you’ve been hiding under a rock somewhere and missed the controversial spot, here it is:
Some of the statements regarding complaints included:
“The Board considered that the response from Lee Lin Chin to the news of the man being vegan is one of disappointment and a sense of failure associated with the whole operation and not being able to bring this patriot back to Australia because he is now vegan. The Board noted that the advertisement as a whole is intended to be humorous and has a movie-style theme to it.
“The Board noted that it had previously considered advertisements for other products (Budget Direct Captain Risky 0024/15) where the comedic and unrealistic nature of the advertisement as a whole created an overall tone that was humorous and fantastical and that the movie-style nature of the advertisement was evident to viewers. In the Board’s view, the comedic nature of this ad.
“The Board considered whether the vegan man is given ‘unfair or less favourable treatment ‘. In the Board’s view the man is not treated unfairly. He is not taken back to Australia – but this is not seen as being unfair to him as it appears that he does not want to eat meat so would not want to return to Australia for that reason. (side note: this is definitely the best line in the whole document).
“The Board first considered complainants’ concerns that the advertisement is discriminatory towards Indigenous Australians because of the reference to ‘Operation 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. The Board also noted however the Macquarie Dictionary definition of boomerang to include a colloquial meaning of ‘something that is expected to be returned.’
“Finding that the advertisement did not breach the Code of Ethics, the Board dismissed the complaints.”