Lamb campaign cleared by Australian Advertising Standards Bureau

By Aidan Fortune contact

- Last updated on GMT

Complaints against Meat & Livestock Australia's lamb campaign has been dismissed
Complaints against Meat & Livestock Australia's lamb campaign has been dismissed

Related tags: Advertising

An advertising campaign from Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), which attracted criticism over its depiction of Hindu god Ganesha, has been cleared by the Australian Advertising Standards Bureau. 

The campaign, which shows various religious deities enjoying dinner together, was criticised by the Hindu community for showing Ganesha eating lamb.

An official complaint was made to the Advertising Standards Bureau and the High Commission of India made a demarche to the Australian government in an effort to have the advertisement pulled.

However, the Advertising Bureau deemed the campaign did not breach any of its guidelines and dismissed complaints regarding Ganesha.

MLA welcomed the Advertising Standards Bureau’s decision. In a statement, it said: “There was never an intention to offend… rather, we wanted to ensure that we were as inclusive as possible. To this end, those religions that don’t typically eat red meat are not shown consuming lamb in the advertisement, but are still invited to the table.

“MLA advertisements have a history of being irreverent and jovial, but we are a responsible advertiser acting always with the intent of adhering to the Advertising Standards Code. Today’s outcome reflects our ongoing commitment to the Code and to responsible advertising.”

The decision to dismiss the complaints was criticised by Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism.

He said that it clearly signalled that the current system of so-called advertising “self-regulation”​ was not effectively working in Australia and it was time for it to go. "This case had highlighted that integrity of this advertising self-regulation system was highly doubtful."

Zed also urged Mitch Fifield, Australia Minister for Communications and the Arts, to move the advertising regulation to his department and dismiss the Bureau, which he said “had blatantly failed to deliver, despite the high community resentment”​. He also called on Australia Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce to impose a fine on “producer-owned”​ MLA, which he believed “should not be in the business of playing with the sentiments of communities with the public money”​.

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