The Australian Day lamb commercial attracted 600 complaints for its violence, portrayal of vegans and use of the aboriginal word boomerang, but was cleared by the Advertising Standards Bureau last week.
“In the majority of the Board’s view, a depiction of torching of the vegan food is an exaggerated and humorous response to the food that is not lamb – a portrayal of the food being less preferable to the advertised product, and not inciting hatred towards people who are vegan,” the board said in a statement.
“In the Board’s view the use of the tagline or phrase ‘Operation Boomerang’ as used in the advertisement is not a reference to Indigenous Australians but is meant as a reference to something which is to be returned.”
Building attitude to lamb
The advert, which features famed SBS network presenter Lee Lin Chin, is styled around a military exercise dubbed ‘Operation Boomerang’. The plan is simple: extract “stranded” Australians from around the world to bring them back for a lamb barbecue to celebrate Australia Day.
MLA’s annual campaign, now in its twelfth year, is all about “building consumer attitudes to lamb”, according to the organisation’s marketing manager Andrew Howie.
“The Australia Day Lamb campaign has proven to be very valuable in lifting lamb sales and ultimately delivering value back to levy payers. Every year we see a significant uplift in lamb sales in the week before Australia Day.”
When MLA ran the lamb campaign in 2015, Howie said lamb sales rose 35% in the week before Australia Day, compared to the weekly average. This generated a return of $3.76 for every dollar invested in the campaign.