The controversial Australia Day lamb ad featuring Lee Lin Chin will continue to be aired after the Advertising Standards Board ruled it had not breached the AANA Code of Ethics yesterday.
The ad, which has been viewed more than 1.8 million times on YouTube received nearly 650 complaints, making it the most complained about ad in Australia history. The second most controversial Australia Day ad was in 2014 starring Sam Kekovich which only saw 80 complaints come through.
Much of the controversy in the ad, by Meat and Livestock Australia, was centred on a particular scene where vegans said they were being discriminated against.
In the scene, a special operations agent breaks into the New York apartment of an Australian expat saying: “C’mon mate, in a few hours you’ll be eating lamb on the beach.”
“But I’m a vegan now,” the Aussie expat responds before the agent can be seen torching the table and his food.
In a statement released by the ASB, the bureau dismissed the claims saying that “a depiction of torching of the vegan food is an exaggerated and humorous response to the food that is not lamb – a portrayal of the food being less preferable to the advertised product, and not inciting hatred towards people who are vegan.”
The complaints fell under the discrimination and violence category with many also complaining that the word “boomerang” in “Operation Boomerang” — the mission to bring Australians back home to have a proper lamb barbecue on Australia Day — was not appropriately used.
“The Board noted that other than the use of the word boomerang the advertisement does not depict, refer to or parody any Indigenous 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 statement read.
While the two minute ad has even been criticised as being “suggestive of terrorist attacks”, the ASB said that many of the scenes had “a look and feel of a movie” and was “clearly a depiction of a fantasy situation”.
You can watch the ad in full below.