News National Vegans complain about Australia Day lamb ad
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Vegans complain about Australia Day lamb ad

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It has clocked up over 200,000 views on YouTube since it was uploaded just two days ago and has gone viral on social media, but not everyone is happy with the latest lamb ad from Meat and Livestock Australia.

The ad features SBS newsreader and social media sensation Lee Lin Chin as she masterminds a plan to bring Australians home for Australia Day so they can eat lamb.

However, one particular scene has already been the subject of dozens of complaints.

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It shows a team of special agents breaking into a New York apartment and using a blow torch on a table when the occupant protests that he is vegan.

Andrew Howie from Meat and Livestock Australia defended the scene, saying it was a bit of fun.

“The torching is metaphorical towards the kale in the bowl (on the table),” he said.

“It’s in no way attended to be abusive or violent … what we are trying to do is increase lamb sales over the period.”

The majority of complainants have taken issue with the treatment of vegans, but Fiona Jolly from the Advertising Standards Bureau said the scene was not against the rules.

“What we have to do is look at complaints against the Advertiser Code of Ethics, and the Code of Ethics doesn’t really have lifestyle choice or eating preferences as an issue that we will look at as being discriminatory or vilifying.”

But she said the board would review other complaints which argued that the use of a blowtorch was an act of violence, and had no place in food advertising.

“Ads cannot contain violence unless it’s relevant to the service or the product being advertised,” she explained.

“Most complaints that we get about violence concern things such as ads for horror movies or violent computer games, and for those type of products, showing some violence from games is relevant, and so generally those type of ads won’t be banned,” she said.

“But there is no place for violence in an ad unless it’s relevant to the product, so what the board has to look at is the part of the ad complained about – is it actually violent?”

She said the board could decide to pull the ad, or force it to be edited, if it found it had breached the rules.

Meat and Livestock Australia said the ad was supposed to be irreverent.

Every year Meat and Livestock Australia launches its controversial advertising campaign encouraging people to eat more lamb.

In the past so-called “lambassador” Sam Kekovich has taken aim at vegetarians by calling them “soap-avoiding”, “pot-smoking” and “un-Australian”.

Ms Jolly said the Advertising Standards Bureau was not surprised to receive complaints again this year.

“We basically run our operations in January to be prepared for a barrage of complaints whenever Australia Day is approaching,” she said.

“MLA’s standard approach now is to put out a controversial, provocative, attention-seeking ad, so we have been expecting complaints.”

The latest lamb ad cost $1.2 million to make and will run up until January 26.

Meat and Livestock Australia said there was a 35 per cent increase in lamb sales in the lead up to last Australia Day and it hoped to exceed that number in the coming weeks.

–ABC

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