‘A healthy appetite for risk’ – how MLA marketing boss Nathan Low stays on the right side of the line

Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) is already preparing for its 2022 summer lamb campaign, having set the expectation of producing something bold that captures the mood of the time.

MLA’s lamb campaigns over the years, including the 2021 campaign which addressed border closures and Scott Morrison’s ill-timed summer holiday, have had a knack for balancing risk and tapping into the cultural zeitgeist.

“It’s about a healthy appetite for risk,” MLA general manager, marketing and insights, Nathan Low, told Mumbrella on this week’s Mumbrellacast. “It’s about taking a smart risk, clever risk, and really dancing the dance to stay on the right side of the line, but [still] really push the needle.

“We make sure we set the tasks of punching above our weight… and one way to do that is to make sure that our advertising always cuts through. Lamb’s always had a personality where we can be very provocative and playful, therefore tapping into the zeitgeist is always a core part of the strategy.”

The most recent big campaign from MLA was actually for beef, and it tied in with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The ‘Feed Your Greatness’ campaign, which was created with The Monkeys, featured Aussie Olympians across a content series and had a hero TVC where world champion javelin thrower, Kelsey-Lee Barber, was pitching for the last piece of meat on the plate with her sibling.

“Australia beef, over the years, we’ve done some great work as well, very memorable work, but the personality of Australian beef is slightly different,” Low said. “It’s [a more] mainstream brand of the fresh meat category, and therefore the work we do tends to be a little bit more strategic in nature and therefore a little bit more functional.

“Beef probably has a more ‘always-on’ style of strategy. Whereas lamb is the one where we have one big campaign every year we go out, we try to make news, we try to cut through, we try to be provocative.”

MLA recently launched a new phase of its Australian good meat platform, addressing the relationship between livestock and the environment, and seeking to dispel rumours about the impact of meat production.

The consumer-facing animated series will contain five clips released through the back end of 2021. “It’s more to tell the story about the great work the industry is doing, whether it’s our initiatives on sustainability, our initiatives on health and nutrition, or our initiatives on animal welfare,” Low said.

MLA’s last lamb campaign came out at a time when lockdowns weren’t front-of-mind, but border closures remained topical. Even though most of the country is back in lockdown, Low said MLA won’t steer away from COVID as a topic.

“We’re working on our 2022 campaign right now and we will still choose to lean in [to COVID]. During the last campaign, it felt like a lot of marketers and brands were staying away from overtly talking about COVID.

“I think the brave choice we made at the time was to lean into it and find a way to talk about it. Yes, we probably wouldn’t do the same campaign right now, but we will still find a uniquely Australian lamb way of telling the story.”

Catch Zanda Wilson’s full interview with MLA’s Nathan Low later today on The Mumbrellacast.


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