Sam Neill gets the chop by Meat & Livestock Australia

Hollywood actor Sam Neill has been axed by Meat & Livestock Australia after seven years as the brand ambassador and star of MLA’s much-loved TV commercials for red meat.

The decision to drop the Jurassic Park, Event Horizon and The Piano star was made because Neill was contracted to feature only in TV ads – and MLA increasingly uses other forms of media.

MLA’s group marketing director Andrew Cox told Mumbrella: “Sam only wanted to appear on TV. Which meant we couldn’t take the campaign into other media. Just doing TV worked fine in 2005. But seven years is a long time in media. And we need to be able to execute our nutrition campaign at a grass roots level using other channels.”

Cox added that Neill’s time as the face of MLA had “run its course” and the brand is not looking for a replacement spokesman.

“Sam has done great things for our brand. He’s had an amazing impact. In the earlier days, he was the foundation of our nutritional messaging for red meat. But the association has run its course.”

In Neill’s last appearance for MLA, he plays a newsreader in the ‘Stay Ready, Australia’ campaign. The agency behind the ad was Host, which won the business from Brand Council in 2010.

Neill was signed by MLA to be the face of red meat in 2005, when red meat was under fire from health critics on nutrition grounds.

The advertiser wanted to build on its successful ‘Dancing Butcher’ campaign and get the message across that red meat has been a part of the human diet since humans first evolved.

The Jurassic Park actor was chosen to front the campaign, through ad agency The Campaign Palace, and starred in a number of popular spots for red meat.

Sam Neill’s most recent appearance on Australian TV was in Nine’s prison drama Alcatraz, which was axed after its first season by program maker Fox.


  1. Zerin Knight
    10 Jul 12
    11:41 am

  2. Why do people believe such rubbish! It’s this kind of propaganda that has led to the dire straits that we find ourselves in because of the power of the meat and livestock industry. Intensive farming has grown to ridiculous proportions, causing harm to human health and the environment as well as unneccessary cruelty to defenceless animals. Human animals are abusing the rights of other sentient beings to enjoy full and complete lives with their families. We steal their young so that we can drink the milk intended for their own babies; we slaughter their babies so that we can eat their flesh; we buy eggs from cruelly caged hens; we support chicken farms that suffocate or put male chicks through a blender; we turn a blind eye to the horrors of slaughter and live animal exports; we keep pigs in pens so small they can not turn nor can they get close to their young. If this type of behavious was being inflicted on humans by other beings, we would be horrified. This is the most abhorrent abuse of power by a supposedly intelligent species on other defenceless species – just because we can. It’s time that we devoted our efforts, money and brain power to developing products for human consumption that don’t rely on the death of others. And it’s time to appreciate the delicious food that comes from plants, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds. We CAN lead healthy, happy lives without harming others!

  3. Jill Brown
    10 Jul 12
    12:15 pm

  4. Err . . . Andrew Cox at MLA . . . the spelling is ‘grass roots’, not ‘grass routes’.

    And I’m with Zerin Knight. Hated those smug ads!

  5. Kernil
    10 Jul 12
    12:21 pm

  6. I like mine medium to well done. Yummy

  7. cf
    10 Jul 12
    12:27 pm

  8. Err, again… He was in ‘The Piano’, the ‘The Piano’.

  9. cf
    10 Jul 12
    12:28 pm

  10. * The Piano’, not ‘The Pianist’

  11. Lani
    10 Jul 12
    12:32 pm

  12. Agree, Jill and Zerin. As a vegetarian I’ve always thought those ads were vaguely offensive and designed to undermine those of us who choose to live a healthy vego lifestyle… “if you don’t eat lamb you’re un-Australian” and all that crap.

    I think you can advertise your product without directly calling out other people’s choices as “bad”.

  13. Robin Hicks
    10 Jul 12
    12:41 pm

  14. Good spot on the typos cf.

    Sorry all.

    Robin – Mumbrella

  15. Ed
    10 Jul 12
    1:01 pm

  16. Zerin, you obviously haven’t had the veal at The Cut. It’s to die for!

  17. chris
    10 Jul 12
    1:43 pm

  18. Surprised he didn’t get the chop from Hollywood once they seen the ad’s. I thought the point of an ad is to make the product appealing to the consumer who in turn buys the product in the ad. Not to sit there and say what the hell was that all about.
    What I do know is the other Sam sells more Lamb once a year then this Sam sold in during the who campaign apart from incremental revenue.

  19. zeljko basic
    10 Jul 12
    4:30 pm

  20. Folks believe the ‘nutrition’ story because they want to. It validates their over consumption of meat. And because the MLA is allowed to make public claims like ‘it’s part of our DNA’ without qualification, such as, ‘in moderation’ or ‘as part of a balanced diet’.
    In truth, humans have historically not been able to pop down to the butchers and pick up a couple of t-bones for dinner.
    Meat has had a ceremonial, even sacred, part in our evolution. To paint humans as blood-lusting carnivores is a puddle of cow poo. Only a few generations ago, a ‘Sunday’ roast (chicken or red meat) was a bit of big deal for most Australians.
    Has the explosion of meat in our diet improved our nutritional wellbeing? Is the MLA really interested in our nutrition?
    As long as industry bodies can advertise their product as having some kind of magical quality, be it dairy or meat, people will go on without giving their daily meat fix a second thought.

  21. aiika
    11 Jul 12
    5:40 am

  22. i like mine medium rare – once in a while… too much red meat is too heavy to process

  23. Anonymous
    11 Jul 12
    9:23 am

  24. The MLA ads are the meat-eaters version of the crazy vegan rant…and somehow I don’t think Australians need to be told to eat more meat.

    Although every time I see Sam Neill on TV, it always gets me in the mood to rewatch Jurassic Park. Hollywood should pay the MLA some commissions!

  25. Fernando
    11 Jul 12
    10:54 am

  26. “Lean red meat, 3-4 times a week” does not sound like “the meat-eaters version of the crazy vegan rant” to me. I am wondering if there is any moderate/sensible vegetarian diet promoter… I eat meat and have no intention to change my diet. However, I recently visited a vegetarian restaurant in Melbourne and it was fantastic! I got so many good ideas on how to eat my vegies and increased my appreciation for this sort of food. A meat eater friend commented “they make the vegies so good because they have to try so hard to get there with no meat”… I guess she may be right, or not? I don’t care the vegetarian recipes were fantastic and I intend to incorporate them next to my moderate portion of lean meat (not only red)… perhaps more than 4 times a week…

  27. TheRealTruth AtLast
    11 Jul 12
    11:57 pm

  28. It’s amazing how easy it is to ruin minds when you have tremendous amounts of money.. in the last three weeks this video has been translated into 9 languages and seen over 100,000 times.. a simple ten minute speech from an honest man at the Melbourne Town Hall during a recent ‘Intelligence Squared’ debate on the topic ‘Should Animals Be Off The Menu’ – I IMPLORE YOU to watch it – – both meat eaters and vegetarians, what do you think of it? Just give it 90 seconds and see if its worth watching more off..