It’s the iconic Australia Day ad – the Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) lamb ad – so cue the controversy.
The ad, which some have described as the closest approximation Australia has to a Super Bowl commercial, has this year again courted controversy, not least of which is its apparent abandonment of the now highly politically charged day 26 January.
The woes for MLA and its creative agency The Monkeys began when the ad was delayed, which MLA’s domestic market manager Graeme Yardy told The Herald was due to the bushfire crisis currently sweeping across the nation.
The ad, which is usually released prior to Australia Day to increase lamb consumption on the day, delayed the launch until January 27.
While the ad’s concept didn’t change, Yardy said the MLA decided to delay the campaign due to the “sombre mood” amidst the bushfire crisis. He also noted the livestock losses that are “devastating the industry” and the challenges of production while trying to rebuild infrastructure damaged in the bushfires.
B&T contacted The Monkeys for comment but did not receive a response at the time of publishing.
The delay of the ad has also come under fire from livestock groups across the country.
Victorian Farmers Federation Livestock Group president Leonard Vallance told Beef Central the lamb ad is “almost a cornerstone of Australia Day” and expressed his disapproval that the campaign was delayed out of political correctness.
“We’re all over PC, that is so last century.
“[The campaign] is Australian, it takes the piss – if it is going to fall victim to political correctness then it is a bloody sad day for Australia.”
Vallance also said the ad should not have been delayed due to the bushfires because “people in these times need a bit of humour”, calling the decision “crap”.
“If you are going to run with that argument, we shouldn’t have had it because there was a drought,” he added.
Western Victorian lamb producer Georgina Gubbins said if the MLA lamb campaign is a summer promotion, it needs to start in December.
“They’ve missed the holiday period,” she said.
Spikes in sales
MLA marketing manager Graeme Yardy said the MLA lamb ad typically sees a spike in sales over the period of its marketing campaigns, and that he expects a similar result this year.
In 2019, MLA saw a 12 per cent rise in sales over the five weeks of the summer lamb campaign.
However, this is a third of its most successful Australia day lamb ad on record, which was in 2016 when sales spiked 36.9 per cent across the two week campaign period.
A mixed bag of reviews
The concept of this year’s ad was inspired by the Cambridge Analytica scandal and features ‘Lambalytica’ researchers who are mining data to find people who need to reconnect to real life.
And, it’s received mixed reviews, with industry personnel taking to Campaign Brief to air their thoughts.
Jeebus wrote: “This is woeful. The worst Lamb ad yet off a really low base. First comment I’ve ever made on CB and this compelled me to do it.”
Dan wrote: “This was really difficult to watch.”
Yawn said: “Wow. That is some severely overcooked lamb.”
However, there have also been positive reviews.
Monkey hate said: “It’s actually pretty good,” while Pete said “Brilliant as usual. Nice one Monkeys!
But why run it after the Australia Day long weekend?”
The ad has also caught the ire of Today co-hosts Allison Langdon and Karl Stefanovic, with Stefanovic calling it “the worst lamb ad [he’s] ever seen.”
“We still love lamb,” he added, while Langdon followed with: “But we just hate the ad.”
Over to you guys – what did you think of this year’s MLA lamb ad?