The vegan and the SWAT member in the Australia Day ad. Lee Lin Chin stars in the controversial commercial to promote lamb on Australia Day.
“Lambassador” Sam Kekovich in the 2016 Australia Day lamb ad.
The controversial Australia Day ad criticised for inciting hatred towards vegans while encouraging people to eat lamb has been given the all-clear.
In an extraordinary meeting on Wednesday, the Advertising Standards Bureau dismissed all complaints, giving the ad the OK and in effect telling any objectors to learn to take a joke.
The ad from Meat and Livestock Australia, starring popular SBS newsreader Lee Lin Chin and long-time lamb consumption advocate Sam Kekovich, includes a scene showing a military officer taking a blow torch to vegan’s apartment.
There are two versions of the ad; a 30-second version appears on free-to-air TV, while the full version appears on YouTube, where it has racked up close to 2 million views.
But both versions have been met with fierce objection from vegans and sympathetic vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.
Vegans took personal offence to the ad, while others criticised the use of the term “Operation Boomerang” that referred to the ad’s premise of bringing home Australian expats for the sole purpose of eating lamb on Australia Day.
The bureau received more than 600 complaints.
In the interest of promoting an informed debate, here are some of the complaints the bureau actually received:
I am vegan. Do I need to say more? I am vegan for ethical reasons. Animals die for meat consumption. Ashley Madison – no one dies. Big difference. Please ban.
I think all vegetarians and vegans are offended by this ad because it is saying that we are ‘unAustralian’ and ‘lack spirit’ by refusing to eat a damn dead animal that we have hearts for.
My children were at a friend’s house and saw this ad, and came home terrified someone was going to come and torch our living room because we’re vegan.
Ever since the campaign came out, people are being even more rude and constantly making fun of vegans and now that this is a national campaign, it’s even worse. I feel like the ad makes the public feel like it’s OK to be horrible towards vegans and make derogatory comments.
Promotes violence against vegans by suggesting that torching a vegan’s home is amusing; the inference being that people who choose compassion for animals over the mass slaughter of innocent baby animals are somehow un-Australian, + therefore deserve to be ridiculed, + violated. If it were a vegan ad promoting the same ideology towards meat-eaters, would it be acceptable?
Watch Cowspiracy. It’s available on Netflix.
This already peddles the broad generalisation that vegans are somehow cowering (no pun intended) or overtly non-confrontational hippies.
It is discriminatory to vegans.
The problem is the assumption on behalf of the advertiser, that violent acts of terrorism, against anyone who thinks differently to the mainstream, is an appropriate subject for making jokes and for marketing products.
Portraying torching someone’s home and belongings for being different, is equivalent to terrorism. It’s just not funny.
Many are already fearful of terrorism, and then an advertisement like this appears on our screens. As a Vegan, I am already bullied by many in society and this advertisement promotes active violence against Vegans!
In these troubling times of terrorism and rural fires firstly I find it a bit concerning and insensitive that fire is made into comedy.
It promotes property damage, break and enter, violence, terrorism, kidnapping, bullying, peer group pressure tactics, etc. This is not what I believe is ‘Australian’ and do not think these topics are a ‘harmless’ joke.
This sends a message saying that veganism is wrong and non-acceptable.
My children are now frightened our house is going to be set on fire on Australia Day.
How can you allow such an advert. This is wrong.
It’s a meat ad. Leave the vegans out of it.
Here’s what the bureau had to say:
“The Board noted that the overall tone and theme of the advertisement is intended to be humorous and considered that the advertisement did not depict material that discriminated against or vilified any person or section of the community.
“The Board first considered whether the advertisement is suggestive of terrorism. In the Board’s view, most members of the community would understand this advertisement to be a humorous take on movies such as James Bond and Austin Powers-style movies – in particular through the use of Lee Lin Chin in the main character role.
“In the Board’s view the advertisement is unlikely to be viewed as depicting or condoning terrorist behaviour and that the level of action and implied violence is not inappropriate for the likely audience.
“The use of the tagline or phrase Operation Boomerang … is not a reference to Indigenous Australians, but is meant as a reference to something which is to be returned.
“The Board noted that the use of the tagline or phrase Operation Boomerang as used in the advertisement is tongue in cheek and is meant as ‘return to sender’.
“There are exaggerated and unrealistic situations which have the look and feel of a movie. In the Board’s view these images … are fantasy and unrealistic and are not depictions of violence.
“Whilst some members of the community could find the advertisement to be in poor taste … the issue of taste does not fall under the Code of Ethics.”
Meat and Livestock Australia has welcomed the bureau’s decision.