IT WAS supposed to promote unity through meat-eating but there was one glaring problem. Now India has hit back.
The ad, titled “You Never Lamb Alone”, launched by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) on September 4, outraged thousands of Hindus after it featured Lord Ganesha, a revered Hindu deity, “toasting lamb” as “the meat we can all eat”.
Australia’s Hindu community called for action and the Indian government has since lodged an official diplomatic complaint.
In a press release on Friday, the High Commission of India said it had made a “démarche” to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Communication and Arts and the Department of Agriculture over the “insensitive” ad.
The statement said the way Lord Ganesha was used for the ad was considered by the Indian community to be “offensive and hurting their religious sentiments”.
and Livestock Australia and urged them to withdraw the advertisement,” it added.
While the ad’s original intention was to promote unity and inclusivity through enjoying lamb, it seems to have done the exact opposite with Hindus all over the world threatening to boycott Australia’s multi-billion dollar meat industry over the ad.
“With ads like this playing with the sentiments of communities worldwide resulting in boycotts, how long Australia would keep its position as one of the largest exporters of red meat,” he said.
Mr Zed also called for MLA Board Chair Dr. Michele Allan and Managing Director Richard Norton to resign over the ad and for “using cheap tactics to attract attention instead of seriously attempting to prevent consumers from reducing their lamb consumption”.
The simple fact it portrayed opposing divinities and prophets — such as Jesus, Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, Thor and Zeus — was bound to provoke controversy. Even Mohammed gets a mention.
But clearly, when the ad declared it wouldn’t “get into religion at the table”, it already had.
While the outrage over MLA’s latest ad has no doubt stirred the most amount of controversy, it definitely isn’t the first time the association has come under fire for its polarising commercials.
Australia’s Advertising Standards Bureau received over 50 complaints in less than a day after an MLA 2016 ad appeared to promote violence towards vegans.
MLA did not immediately return a request for comment however have addressed the controversy in the past.
Spokesman Andrew Howie previously said the ad was the result of “extensive research and consulation”.
“Our intent is never to offend, but rather acknowledge that lamb is a meat consumed by a wide variety of cultures and capture how the world could look if people left their differing views at the door and came to the table with open arms, and minds,” he said.
“No matter your beliefs, background or persuasion, the one thing we can all come together and unite over, is lamb,” he added.