Meat & Livestock Australia’s most recent Australia Day campaign has got off to a wild and woolly start, with the advertising watchdog flooded with complaints from offended viewers.
The Advertising Standards Bureau confirmed to SmartCompany that as of Monday afternoon, it had received more than 60 complaints from people concerned by the ad.
Meat & Livestock Australia runs an annual marketing campaign coinciding with the lead-up to Australia Day, encouraging people to eat lamb.
This year’s advertisement was launched over the weekend, and features Lee Lin Chin recounting how she spent Australia Day in 1996 in Warsaw without “a char-grilled chop in sight”.
As a result, the SBS newsreader decides to launch “Operation Boomerang” to bring home Aussie expats so they do not have to experience Australia Day without a proper Aussie barbeque.
In one of the scenes, an Australian special agent breaks into an expat’s apartment in Brooklyn.
“C’mon mate, in a few hours you’ll be eating lamb on the beach,” the special agent says.
“But I’m a vegan now,” replies the Aussie expat.
The operative is then told to abort the mission and is seen burning the vegan’s coffee table with a flamethrower.
A spokesperson for the Advertising Standards Bureau told SmartCompany numerous people have complained about this particular scene.
“All up, we’re up to about 65 complaints,” the spokesperson says.
“Most people are concerned about the violence – the burning of the desk. There are also some issues of discrimination relating to the name of the operation itself, ‘boomerang’.”
The complaints will now be forwarded onto the board for review.
Complaints against Meat & Livestock Australia’s advertising campaigns have been previously dismissed by the advertising watchdog.
In 2014, Meat & Livestock Australia’s ad featuring Sam Kekovich calling on people to eat lamb on Australia Day was one of the most complained about ads of the year, receiving as many as 80 complaints.
SmartCompany contacted Meat & Livestock Australia but did not receive a response prior to publication.