Lamb ad insensitive and disrespectful, say Hindus and Anglicans

September 11, 2017 by  
Filed under lead story, newsletter-lead

Australia, September 6, 2017: A spring lamb campaign full of deities feasting on meat and making religious jokes has been condemned by Hindu and Anglican representatives as insensitive and disrespectful.

Created by the Monkeys, the television commercial plays on the idea that anyone can enjoy lamb no matter their background, religious beliefs or dietary requirements and was designed to be playful but not offensive.

The Hindu Council of Australia called for the ad to be banned, saying it was a “crude and deplorable attempt by Meat and Livestock Australia to use images of Ganesha to promote lamb consumption”.

Balesh Dhankhar, a spokesman for the Hindu Council of Australia, said the ad had angered a large number of Hindus in Australia.

The council said Ganesha celebrations were in full swing and it was a special time for the Hindu community in Australia.

Melbourne Anglican bishop Philip Huggins said Anglicans shared the disappointment and anger of Australia’s Hindu community.

The Advertising Standards Board had received 30 complaints about the ad by Wednesday, a spokeswoman told Guardian Australia.

The advertiser would be asked for its response to the complaints and a meeting to discuss banning the ad would be held within a fortnight, she said.

If the ad was deemed to have breached the self-regulatory code of ethics for advertising it would be withdrawn.

The US-based president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, Rajan Zed, said linking the highly revered Lord Ganesha with meat was disrespectful and called on Meat and Livestock Australia to withdraw the ad and apologise.

Lord Ganesha was “meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be used in selling lamb meat for mercantile greed,” Zed said, as news of the offending commercial was reported in the Indian press.

Huggins said the advertisement not only portrayed the vegetarian Hindu God Ganesha eating meat, but put “Jesus Christ at the same table as L Ron Hubbard and trivialises one of Jesus’s most beautiful miracles”.

“The advertisement is cleverly disrespectful,” he said. “It seems that for an ad to stand out there has to be some bizarre or shocking component. Otherwise the fear is it will not be noticed.”

The ad features Scientology founder Hubbard dining with gods, goddesses and prophets including Aphrodite, Zeus and Buddha during which Jesus performs a “reverse miracle” by turning wine into water so a Grecian goddess who is “designated driver” can safely drive home.

Hubbard jokes that he gave up a meal with celebrity Scientology adherent Tom Cruise to attend.

Huggins said he risked drawing attention to the ad but he could not ignore the insulting portrayal.

It is not the first time the industry has offended sections of the community. In recent years vegans and Indigenous groups have complained of being mocked and degraded by the campaign to sell more lamb.

The only major religious figure to be absent from the table is the prophet Muhammad who excuses himself from the occasion by telephone because he has to pick up a child from daycare.

A 2016 Australia Day ad, starring SBS newsreader Lee Lin Chin was cleared by the Advertising Standards Bureau despite attracting more than 600 complaints.

The group marketing manager at Meat & Livestock Australia, Andrew Howie, said the campaign was designed to “push the creative boundaries”.

“In this latest campaign we are showing no matter your beliefs, background or persuasion, the one thing we can all come together and unite over is lamb,” he said.

– the guardian

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