Meat & Livestock Australia ad featuring Lee Lin Chin does not break advertising rules, watchdog says

Broede Carmody /


Meat & Livestock Australia’s current Australia Day campaign which depicts a special agent torching a vegan’s coffee table does not breach the advertising code of ethics, according to the industry watchdog.

The Advertising Standards Board was asked to consider whether the ad is discriminatory towards vegans or wrong to use the phrase “Operation Boomerang” after more than 60 people complained about the campaign just days after it was released.

The ad is part of Meat & Livestock Australia’s annual campaign to encourage people to eat lamb for Australia Day.

This year’s ad features SBS newsreader Lee Lin Chin coordinating a campaign to bring expats back to Australia so they can enjoy a barbecue on Australia Day.

In one scene, an Australian special agent breaks down a man’s apartment door in Brooklyn and says he will be eating lamb on the beach in a few hours.

“But I’m vegan now,” the man replies.

The special agent is then told to abort the mission and is seen burning the vegan’s coffee table with a flamethrower.

However the advertising watchdog ruled that the ad is “clearly a depiction of a fantasy situation” and does not discriminate against vegans.

“Similarly, breaking down the door of the man in the vegan scene is consistent with the fantasy movie feel of the advertisement,” the advertising watchdog said in a statement this afternoon.

“In the majority board’s view, these images are all clearly fantasy and unrealistic and are not depictions of violence nor are they likely to encourage similar behaviour in real life.”

As for whether the ad should have used the words “Operation Boomerang”, the board noted that the ad does not parody Aboriginal Australians or Aboriginal culture.

“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,” the board ruled. 

Broede Carmody

Broede Carmody is a former senior SmartCompany reporter. Before this, he was a co-editor of RMIT University's student magazine Catalyst.