The Advertising Standards Board has passed the Meat & Livestock’s Australia Day ad campaign despite receiving a number of complaints against it. It allowed the advert to go on air.
In the ad, expat Australians are targeted for “Operation Boomerang” where they are saved by soldiers and then brought home to eat lamb on Australia Day. It also volunteers a special agent, SBS presenter Lee Lin Chin, who blowtorched a vegan’s coffee table. The industry watchdog said that the advertisement contains nothing that violated the code of ethics in any manner.
Almost 60 people filed a complaint against the campaign just days after it released. According to them, the ad possessed discriminatory elements towards vegans and had used a wrong phrase, “Operation Boomerang.” The ad starred Chin as well as long-time lamb consumption advocate Sam Kekovich. The bureau considered the scene of blowtorching vegan food as an “exaggerated and humorous” response to alternatives to lamb. It added there was nothing that discriminated against vegans.
The use of the word “Operation Boomerang” was also criticized by complainants. “The use of the tagline or phrase Operation Boomerang … is not a reference to indigenous Australians, but is meant as a reference to something which is to be returned,” ASB said in a statement.
In one of the scenes in the ad, the special agent breaks down the door of a man’s apartment in Brooklyn and addresses him, saying he will have to eat lamb on the beach in a few hours. The man said that he has turned into a vegan. The man then tells the agent to drop his mission following which the SBS newsreader burns the former’s coffee table by using a flamethrower.
The industry regulator said that the whole scene was depicted in a fantasy situation and it was not intended towards hurting vegans’ sentiments. “Similarly, breaking down the door of the man in the vegan scene is consistent with the fantasy movie feel of the advertisement,” the bureau said in its statement. “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 behavior in real life.”