News National Indian government slams ‘offensive’ lamb ad

Indian government slams ‘offensive’ lamb ad

Lamb Ad
The Indian High Commission has called for the controversial lamb ad to be axed. Photo: MLA
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Meat and Livestock Australia’s (MLA) latest controversial lamb advertisement has now sparked a diplomatic incident, after the Indian government lodged a formal complaint.

The Indian High Commission labelled the ‘You Never Lamb Alone’ ad as “offensive” for featuring revered Hindu god Ganesha – a known vegetarian – toasting to, and eating, lamb.

In a statement, the Indian High Commission said the ad “hurt the religious sentiments of the Indian community” and has called for it to be scrapped.

The statement said the High Commission had made a “demarche [a diplomatic course of action] to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Department of Communication and Arts and Department of Agriculture”.

“The Consulate General of India in Sydney has taken up the matter directly with Meat and Livestock Australia and urged them to withdraw the advertisement,” the High Commission said.

“A number of community associations have also registered their protest with [the] government of Australia and Meat and Livestock Australia.”

Australia’s advertising watchdog has already received a number of complaints about the ad which was released last week.

It features religious figures and deities sitting around a table eating lamb together, including Zeus, Jesus, Odin, Moses, Aphrodite, Ganesha, Confucius and Buddha.

It continues a long line of controversial ads from the MLA designed to promote lamb consumption among Australians, with the organisation’s infamous ‘Operation Boomerang’ ad being one of the most complained-about Australian ads of all time.

Universal Society of Hinduism president Rajan Zed said the ad “made fun” of their god.

“[Ganesha] was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be used in selling lamb meat for mercantile greed,” he said in a statement.

“Moreover, linking Lord Ganesha with meat was very disrespectful and highly inappropriate.”

An MLA spokesman said the company stood by the irreverence of this ad, and its previous efforts, and that the decision to make the ad was based on “research and consultation”.

“For a number of years, our ‘You Never Lamb Alone’ campaigns have promoted the value of unity and inclusivity. This latest campaign instalment is no different,” he said.

“The campaign features gods, prophets and deities from across a wide range of religions alongside atheism, in a clearly fantastic nature, with the intent of being as inclusive as possible. To achieve this we undertook extensive research and consultation.

“To this end, those religions that don’t typically eat red meat are not shown consuming lamb, but they are still invited to the table.”

The spokesman added: “We are aware that a number of community groups have raised concerns and are in the process of meeting with and responding to these to better understand their concerns and to reiterate our positive intent behind the concept.

“Our intent is never to offend, but by acknowledging that lamb is a meat consumed by a wide variety of cultures, capture how such a gathering might look if one left their differing views at the door and came to the table with open arms, and minds.”

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