Meat & Livestock Australia’s latest Aussie Day ad, featuring SBS news reporter Lee Lin Chin, has ruffled a few feathers among the vegan community.
The ad, created by The Monkeys, depicts a rescue mission for the Aussies overseas who aren’t home for Australia Day. Called Operation Boomerang, the rescuers cascade into various homes to hoist Aussies back Down Under.
One of the homes the squad bursts in on is that of a vegan – someone who doesn’t eat animal products – and upon learning of his dietary preference, proceed to leave him there and set fire to his house.
While the joke may have been in jest, many others didn’t see the funny side.
At last count, 240 complaints have been lodged with the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB), and according to Courtney Bembridge from the ABC, it’s been particularly in relation to the vegan scene.
“It’s that scene that has drawn the most complaints,” said Bembridge in a radio report, “and while many found it offensive to vegans the regulator is more concerned over the use of a blow torch to burn the man’s apartment.”
The ASB told B&T: “Complaints have ranged from racial discrimination regarding the use of the term ‘boomerang’ and the issue of violence, particularly breaking into people’s homes and the use of a flame thrower. The actual complaints won’t be available until the Case Reports have been published.
“As with all ads it considers, the Board will make its judgement about whether the ad breaches the AANA Code of Ethics, taking into account the complaints, the ad itself, and the response from the advertiser. If the Board dismisses complaints the ad is free to be shown in its current format. If the Board upholds complaints the ad will need to be removed or modified.”
However, MLA’s group marketing manager Andrew Howie told B&T it was supposed to be a light-hearted spot.
“The Australia Day campaigns have always been quite satirical in their nature,” he said. “We sought to entertain. If you view it in its entirety, it’s supposed to be light-hearted and fun.”
He quipped they were yet to get a call from the Danish embassy requesting the return of their Princess, who was hoisted into a helicopter a minute and a half into the clip.
The campaign has been the MLA’s most successful Australia Day campaign to date, added Howie, despite only being in market for two days.
This isn’t the first time MLA has had complaints about its ads, as lambassador Sam Kekovich has highlighted vegetarians as being ‘un-Australian’ within the ads.
“It’s very much MLA’s standard approach now to put out a controversial, provocative, attention-seeking ad, so we have been expecting complaints,” Fiona Jolly, CEO of the ASB told ABC’s Bembridge.