Advertising

“More than another dead animal in the fridge”: How Meat and Livestock Australia uses ad controversy for success

Emma Koehn /

Meat and Livestock Australia

Source: Meat and Livestock Australia

It’s two weeks until Australia Day, which means it’s time for Meat and Livestock Australia’s all-singing, all-dancing plea for the country to buy lamb products in the organisation’s annual January campaign launch.

Having courted significant controversy throughout 2017 — when its depiction of religious figures sitting down together to enjoy lamb offended many with its portrayal of vegetarian deity Ganesha — MLA’s latest effort draws on the idea that Australian politics is becoming increasingly polarised.

In the clip, the “left” and “right” of a suburban cul de sac engage in a dance-off prior to being united by the harmony-inducing properties of lamb.

The campaign hasn’t received the immediate outcry of last year’s religious feast, but it has gained traction on social media and again prompted blowback from vegetarian and vegan groups. Meat-free business Alternative Meat Co has even released its own rebuttal video questioning whether meat consumption really unites Australians.

For years now, Meat and Livestock Australia has attracted widespread complaints for campaigns like “Operation Boomerang”, with scenes like the one showing the burning of a vegan’s coffee table prompting outcry from those who don’t eat meat.

However, advertising experts tell SmartCompany there is a clear reason MLA keeps using the same viral-focused strategy when trying to convince people to eat lamb — and its commitment to this approach holds lessons for other brands.

Understanding the power of attention

Media and technology consultant Nic Hodges says while some may complain about MLA’s strategy, the organisation’s campaigns are “very well considered”, and there is nothing “off the cuff” about the way these ads are put together.

“You [brands] need to create this kind of ‘cognitive availability’,” Hodges says.

It’s getting harder and harder to get brand awareness. It’s becoming more expensive and things are more limited in terms of options, so one brilliant way is to simply create controversy.” 

The strength of MLA’s strategy lies in the consistency of the approach, but also the calculated way in which the campaigns generate some controversy or concern in the community, but never take things too far, Hodges says.

You go out and offend a very small percentage of people with something that is, to be honest, not hugely offensive. I think that’s a very good strategy — they understand how far they can push it.” 

Keeping things consistent

Marketing expert and adjunct professor at Melbourne Business School, Mark Ritson, believes those in the advertising community that say MLA is just using the same old tricks are missing the point of the effectiveness of their approach.

You’ve got agencies that are in love with always doing something new, something sexy or using VR headsets, but that can pass the consumer by,” Ritson says. 

By comparison, the Australia Day lamb ads and longer form video campaigns that MLA has run for years now send a clear and consistent message to the target audience.

“This campaign is designed to get people in that target market to buy meat,” he says.

“Its longer term goal is trying to position lamb as something other than another dead animal in the fridge — position it as a product that brings Australians together.” 

A product like lamb can easily “disappear from saliency”, so it’s important to keep creating campaigns that are shareable and provide widespread TV coverage, Ritson says.

Hodges agrees that the key strength of the approach is creating a number of ads in a row that get consumers to pay attention.

“Brand growth comes through attention; there’s the classic thing that there’s no such thing as bad press,” he says.

And there’s another lesson in the MLA approach, says Ritson: sticking with one idea could be the most powerful tool a brand has.

While other local brands “stumble around like a drunken sailor” trying to get consistency, MLA has used one strategy for the long haul.

They’ve held the line, and you could need ten years to get any really central position across,” he says. 

“There are probably other approaches for campaigns out there, but they’ve given this one a chance.”

Never miss a story: sign up to SmartCompany’s free daily newsletter and find our best stories on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn and Instagram.

Advertisement
Emma Koehn

Emma Koehn is SmartCompany's senior journalist.

We Recommend

FROM AROUND THE WEB

  • Jimmy55

    I really liked it.

    I think this advertisement shows up why we need a political system that works better.

    Plus even if you are not a big meat eater, if you have some its hard to go past a good roast lamb when you do.

    We waste some much money and dont move forward with what we have now.

    As they brought up AGW now climate change ( as the real world is not doing what they said it would do), read below.

    Plus if we look at the fine work of Henrik Svenmark on how cosmic rays which are high during periods of low sun activity, create cloud cover, we would realize, as many have said the SUN drive weather and not really CO2

    The effect is actually 7+ time Great that what was thought. He has been trying to tell us since around 2005, and no in listening , whilst we listen to Al Gore rubbish. So put that in your AGW model and

    Plus read NOT BY FIRE BUT BY ICE by Robert Felix wrote over 10 years ago.

    Most of the USA and Canada better get used to winters like the last few weeks and worse for the next 20-30 years, as it is a cycle from the SUN.

    They use Alaska to justify Global warming sometimes but hey, do your own research and in the last great ice age, Alaska was warmer that near areas and not under an ice sheet.

    So from this advertisement the lesson is have some nice lamb , and stop listening to the mainstream, do more of your own research and on voting day think magnitudes more than you ever have before about who you vote . We need people of different mindsets and more vision to vote for, not political machines more tied to the big end of town on both sides than people realise ( you should do more of your own research there).

    These advertisements are centered Australia day, so lets all think more and get a far better Australia.

    • Rohan Baker

      Stop talking scientific fact Jimmy55.

      Straight to the denier gulag for you. Hockey sticks of the IPCC Unite!

      • jimmy55

        You may or may not know it , but Dr Mann ( Hockey stick man) has been charged with contempt in Canada. He had a go at a denier and the denier has sort of proved him wrong.

        The court demanded all the evidence for his study and he wont release it, maybe because is wrong and fraudulent.

        This does not make the MSM news in the evening.

        2 good climate realist websites, http://www.iceagenow.info and youtube channel: adapt2030

  • Jimmy55

    I really liked it.

    I think this advertisement shows up why we need a political system that works better.

    Plus even if you are not a big meat eater, if you have some its hard to go past a good roast lamb when you do.

    We waste some much money and dont move forward with what we have now.

    As they brought up AGW now climate change ( as the real world is not doing what they said it would do), read below.

    Plus if we look at the fine work of Henrik Svenmark on how cosmic rays which are high during periods of low sun activity, create cloud cover, we would realize, as many have said the SUN drive weather and not really CO2

    The effect is actually 7+ time Great that what was thought. He has been trying to tell us since around 2005, and no in listening , whilst we listen to Al Gore rubbish. So put that in your AGW model and

    Plus read NOT BY FIRE BUT BY ICE by Robert Felix wrote over 10 years ago.

    Most of the USA and Canada better get used to winters like the last few weeks and worse for the next 20-30 years, as it is a cycle from the SUN.

    They use Alaska to justify Global warming sometimes but hey, do your own research and in the last great ice age, Alaska was warmer that near areas and not under an ice sheet.

    So from this advertisement the lesson is have some nice lamb , and stop listening to the mainstream, do more of your own research and on voting day think magnitudes more than you ever have before about who you vote . We need people of different mindsets and more vision to vote for, not political machines more tied to the big end of town on both sides than people realise ( you should do more of your own research there).

    These advertisements are centered Australia day, so lets all think more and get a far better Australia.

  • absolutelyconcerned

    There used to be some originality to AU advertising …. these days Australian advertising’s outputs (and AU ‘culture’ itself) amount to little more than caricatures and punch-lines. Hey just realised AU culture must be the ultimate oxymoron

  • Syb

    Love it! Clever, witty, ‘in the now’ public comment. Great to see Sam pop in. Am a lamb eater (and tofu), sometimes swing to vego , partner is vego he has been since his childhood, daughter is vego/vegan, son is protein consumer. We have our own lamb. Overall the problem with all issues mentioned in the song and dance is Humans…… too many of them, Overpopulation. Global warming, climate change, food supply, water, environmental damage, conflict…….all of human construction. Too Many People.

  • Syb

    Love it! Clever, witty, ‘in the now’ public comment. Great to see Sam pop in. Am a lamb eater (and tofu), sometimes swing to vego , partner is vego he has been since his childhood, daughter is vego/vegan, son is protein consumer. We have our own lamb. Overall the problem with all issues mentioned in the song and dance is Humans…… too many of them, Overpopulation. Global warming, climate change, food supply, water, environmental damage, conflict…….all of human construction. Too Many People.