By consumer affairs reporter Amy Bainbridge.
A controversial advertisement spruiking the benefits of eating lamb on Australia Day that has clocked up more than 1.7 million views on YouTube will be allowed to stay on air.
The Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) advertisement, called Operation Boomerang, 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.
But the advertisement has attracted close to 650 complaints since it was launched a week ago, with a large number of people claiming it discriminated against vegans.
Watch it here:
It includes a scene where a SWAT-style operation is staged and a vegan is rescued while his kale is blow-torched.
Other complaints were in relation to the use of the term “Operation Boomerang”.
The Advertising Standards Board held an extraordinary meeting and decided the advertisement did not breach the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) Code of Ethics.
In a statement the board said:
- In the majority of the board’s view 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.
- In making a determination about concerns about the term boomerang, the board noted that most members of the community would be familiar with the origins of a boomerang and its connection to Indigenous Australians.
- The board also noted however the Macquarie Dictionary definition of boomerang to include a colloquial meaning of ‘something that is expected to be returned’.
The board’s decision covers all versions of the advertisement. The longest version, which only runs online, is two minutes. The television version of the advertisement runs for 30 seconds.
The board said it also considered the issue of violence.
“Specifically the board noted complaints that the overall look and feel of the advertisement is violent and suggestive of terrorist attacks, that it is too violent for children and that the scene of a SWAT team member using a flamethrower is violent,” the board said in its statement.
“In its careful consideration of these concerns the board noted that the advertisement is clearly a depiction of a fantasy situation where SWAT-style teams are bringing Australians back to Australia for Australia Day.
“The Board agreed there are exaggerated and unrealistic situations which have a look and feel of a movie and that scenes of a SWAT member coming in through a window or ceiling are clearly in this vein.”
A controversial MLA advertising campaign encouraging people to eat lamb has become an annual event on Australia Day.
The latest lamb ad cost $1.2 million to make and will run up until January 26.
In a statement the MLA said it welcomed the decision.
“The advertisement has been viewed more than 4 million times across media channels and feedback remains overwhelmingly positive.
This post originally appeared on ABC News.
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