A controversial Australia Day advertisement, which as reported was a spoof about a plan to bring all of Australia’s expats home so they need not meatless on The Big Day later this month, may continue to be aired, after the country’s Advertising Standards Board ruled that it had not breached its advertising ethics code.
This was in spite of the fact that the ad, which has now been viewed on YouTube almost 2 million times since it was posted less than two weeks ago, had received almost 650 complaints, making it Australia’s most complained about ad ever, according to press reports.
The complaints came mainly from vegans, who felt that they were being discriminated against by a specific scene in the ad, in which an Australian expat in New York City resists efforts by a special operations team to take him back to Oz on the grounds that he is “a vegan now”. Others complained about perceived violence, which they said was unacceptable for airing on television.
The ad was produced by Meat and Livestock Australia, a meat marketing organisation.
In the Advertising Standards Board’s decision, which is contained in a 55-page pdf on its website and which may be viewed by clicking here, the board argued that it had no jurisdiction over a 2-minute version of the ad being viewed on YouTube. As for the 30-second, evidently less-offensive version intended for television airing, it said, “whilst some members of the community could find the advertisement to be in poor taste”, it was unable to consider this aspect of the complaints it had received, since “the issue of taste does not fall under the Code of Ethics” that it’s obliged to uphold.
As reported, Meat and Livestock Australia’s annual promotional video was unveiled earlier this month, and features Lee Lin Chi, an Indonesia-born Australian newsreader who is well-known in Australia. It begins with her recalling how she herself had spent Australia Day in 1996 in Warsaw without “a char-grilled chop in sight”.
Also seen in the video are Aussie cricketer Mitchell Johnson and rugby captain Stephen Moore, as well as former “Aussie Rules” football player Sam Kekovich.
Australia Day takes place on 26 January, and marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British Ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales.