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Meat and Livestock Australia marketer discusses its satirical musical ad to promote lamb

Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) has launched Lamb Side Story, a satirical musical ad which marks the latest instalment in the brand’s ongoing We Love Our Lamb campaign.

The ad is a spoof of West Side Story’s iconic battle scene with the rival gangs made up of stereotypes from the left and right of Australian politics. The ad sees the rivals forget their differences to come together over a lamb barbeque.

MLA chief marketing officer Lisa Sharp told The Drum, the ad aims to celebrate what it is to be an Australian.

“The content, like all of our campaigns, takes a very satricial look at modern Australia. What we are saying is that regardless of race, colour, sexual orientation, age, ability or political learning, as the ad content shows, all ideas can come together over a lamb meal.

“It’s not about giving airtime to one idea or another, and it does include a couple of pop-topics, but it’s about giving a satirical look at modern Australia. And one of things that is good about living in Australia is that we have the freedom to express our opinions and point of view.”

The ad also builds on MLA’s longstanding You Never Lamb Alone platform to promote messages of community and inclusion.

“MLA, for many years, has been a brand that stands for unity and inclusivity. This campaign really celebrates what it is to be Australian by really shining a light on the diverse face of the nation and what everyone can bring to the table – or in this case a lamb bbq.”

In a first for the brand, the annual campaign will shift its focus from the Australia Day holiday to instead promote lamb for the entire summer season. This move, the first in the campaign’s 12-year history, coincides with a national conversation around changing the date of the national day, which celebrates the arrival of British settlers and is called Invasion Day by the indigenous community, to a less divisive day.

Sharp said the strategic shift was driven by commercial desires to promote more widespread lamb consumption rather than the date-change debate.

“We know summer is a very important time for the brand and we would argue that there is nothing better than getting together over a lamb bbq at any time over the summer. Over the last 12 years we’ve delivered campaigns that celebrate this in a number of ways and historic ly we were focusing on one day but this year we’ve taken a more seasonal approach to the campaign in order to promote lamb as a dish for summer.”

“MLA is a brand that is all about unity and equally our campaigns are about supporting Australians. However, our focus is how can we best encourage Australians to get together over a lamb bbq and we believe it’s more than just getting together on one day,” said Sharp.

The latest ad comes less than two months after the brand’s controversial Spring campaign was banned by the Advertising Standards Board (ASB).

The ad, which featured religious gods and prophets - including Hindu god Ganesha - sharing a lamb meal, drew a number of complaints and was initially cleared by the ASB, however, an independent review found the ad had breached the advertising code and it was pulled from social media channels.

Sharp said the ad and the ban had not had negative impacts on the brand.

“MLA prides itself on being very consistent in the positioning of lamb, it is very much about promoting the values of unity and getting together over lamb. It is never our intention to offend, and in order to be as inclusive as possible we invited everyone to the table and it was always our intention to be as inclusive as possible. The gathering was intended as a metaphor of the wonderfully diverse make-up of Australia, there was never any intention to single out any individual religion or deity. It was made with good intentions, positive intentions and it was consistent with the brand positioning.

“The reality is that some community members registered some concerns with the content and we absolutely respect that feedback and we had a number of meetings with various community members to discuss those concerns and one thing that is true of every single MLA marketing campaign is that we access all elements and everything is fed back in and considered on all our future creative developments.”

“We don’t seek to be provocative for the sake of it. As a marketing tool, we unashamedly latch onto subjects that are topical and in doing so we have acknowledge that it will be of a contentious nature. By and large, we what people to feel positive about what the lamb brand stands for and we don’t want to alienate anyone. We stand for unity and for inclusivity and we strive to make sure the ad does that. We know Australian’s like together and there is no more popular meal than lamb for doing that," said Sharp.

Lamb Side Story will run across digital, social, TV and cinema with support from PR and media partnerships. The campaign also incorporates in-store, point-of-sale and recipes to promote different cuts and cuisines.

The campaign was created by The Monkeys and directed by Paul Middleditch.

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