Australia's ad watchdog reverses decision and bans controversial MLA lamb advert

Meat and Livestock's controversial lamb campaign has been banned following an independent review

The Advertising Standards Board (ASB) has reversed its decision on Meat and Livestock Australia’s controversial lamb ad, after an independent review found it had breached the advertising code.

The ad, which featured religious gods and prophets, including Hindu god Ganesha sharing a BBQ lamb meal, received more than 200 complaints, including one from the High Commission of India in Australia, which claimed the ad was “offensive" and "hurting religious sentiments".

The ASB originally cleared the ad declaring it had not breached the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) Code of Ethics in Advertising.

Section 2.1 of the code states: ‘Advertising or Marketing Communications shall not portray people or depict material in a way which discriminates against or vilifies a person or section of the community on account of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, age, sexual preference, religion, disability, mental illness or political belief.’

An independent review by the ASB found the original ruling was an “error” and cited "substantial flaws" with the initial decision, which found the ad was “lighthearted and humorous” and did not breach the advertising standards code.

The review found Meat and Livestock Australia gave “inadequate consideration to how seriously some Australians take their religious views” and determined the ad had breached section 2.1 of the code, recommending the ad be removed.

Meat and Livestock Australia continue to maintain the ad was not meant to offend and aimed to share a message of inclusion, however, the ad has been removed from social media channels.

Meat and Livestock Australia have built a reputation for creating controversial advertising, however, this is the first time a complaint has been upheld and a campaign banned.

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Danielle Long

Danielle Long is APAC Correspondent for The Drum with a remit to cover news from China, Australia and New Zealand. Danielle has 15 years experience as a marketing journalist and has worked on publications in the UK and Australia. She has interviewed some of the world’s leading marketing, advertising and creative brains and has written about almost every standout brand and marketing campaign from the last 15 years.

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