LAMB fans are loving the latest Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) blockbuster – but this year’s cheeky installment has been grilled for depicting violence against vegans.
SBS star Lee Lin Chin initiates Operation Boomerang in this year’s advertisement in order to save Australians abroad from missing a lamb barbecue on Australia Day.
Long-standing lambassador Sam Kekovich features in the satirical military rescue mission, with cameos from Wallaby Stephen Moore, cricketer Mitchell Johnson, and chef George Calomobaris.
But the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) says not everybody is laughing.
As of Tuesday the ad had attracted nearly 250 complaints, most related to a ‘violent’ scene where a vegan’s table is burned by a flamethrower.
The scene shows soldiers kicking down the door of a New York apartment before reassuring the cowering Aussie ex-pat he’ll be home “in a few hours... eating lamb on the beach”.
The man replies: “But I’m a vegan now”.
The shocked rescuers are ordered to abort the mission, with one of the soldiers torching a bowl of green leaves on the table.
From the control room, Chin looks unimpressed and drawls: “vegans...”.
Vegans and vegetarians have long been the butt of the annual We Love Lamb ads, with Kekovich previously branding non-meat eaters “unAustralian”, “soap avoiding”, and “pot smokers”.
This year’s ad appears to have stirred particular outrage, attracting 240 complaints in the three days to Tuesday – triple the number the 2014 Lambnesia edition accrued.
An ASB spokeswoman said the vast majority of the complaints were because of the New York apartment scene.
Other media outlets said people were upset over depictions of Australia invading other countries, and potential offence to indigenous Australians at the idea of Operation Boomerang being used to celebrate what many see as “Invasion Day”.
The ASB spokeswoman said a complaints hearing was being fast-tracked.
MLA marketing director Andrew Howie defended the scene to the ABC and Mumbrella.
"The torching is metaphorical towards the kale in the bowl (on the table)," Mr Howie told the ABC.
"It's in no way intended to be abusive or violent … what we are trying to do is increase lamb sales over the period."
The MLA ad reportedly cost $1.2 million to make and has been viewed more than 400,000 times on YouTube.