The latest Australia Day Lamb advertising extravaganza has landed with SBS newsreader Lee Lin Chin the new “lambassador”, heading Operation Boomerang to rescue Aussies abroad from going without Lamb on Australia Day.
Lee, who has developed a massive social media following amongst millennials over the last year and is an icon of SBS, replaces last year’s “lambassador”, the late cricketing legend Richie Benaud, while the founding “lambassador”, Sam Kekovich makes a guest appearance in the ad as a gung-ho helicopter pilot.
Like last year, the ad features a range of cameos including Wallabies captain Stephen Moore, famed for remaining slumped in his cubicle long after the Rugby World Cup loss to New Zealand, retired cricketer Mitchell Johnson, chef George Calombaris and a Princess Mary lookalike.
The ad opens with Lee on a frozen Warsaw balcony on Australia Day 1996, desperately trying to light a barbecue before screaming out in frustration and vowing that no Aussie will never be allowed to go without lamb on Australia again and launching Operation Boomerang.
Sam Kekovich never far from a lamb ad
Playing out like a Hollywood action film the ad, by The Monkeys, then sees a strike force fanning out across the globe to rescue ex-pats from the misery of an Australia Day alone and without Lamb.
There is also a cameo from Nova Sydney’s breakfast hosts Fitzy and Wippa.
MLA marketing director Andrew Howie told Mumbrella one of the challenges was living up to the legacy of the Australia Day Lamb ads – perhaps the only anticipated annual ad in Australia – and doing so on tight budgets that would not even pay for some of the international talent used in ads by other Australian marketers.
“The idea is there are certain key holidays across the calendar where Australians abroad get home sick – they are forced to play a game of cricket in the car park in New York and that sort of thing,” said Howie.
“I think Lee Lin Chin is really an unexpected hero.”
Howie said that MLA had looked at a number of potential “Lambassadors” for the latest ad after the death of Richie Benaud last year, before settling on the quirky SBS presenter.
“(Lee Lin Chin’s) personal following on Twitter is amazing,” he said.
Lee boasts more than 68,000 Twitter followers and SBS is running a campaign to get people to vote for her as best presenter in the Logies. Importantly she has also built up a cult following from her comedic appearances on SBS2’s The Feed amongst younger audiences.
As the strike force crashes into people’s homes and workplaces around the world to rescue them, one rescue crew accidentally arrives in the house of a vegan and they are forced to abort the mission, with Lee quipping “pah, vegans”.
The campaign continues with the theme developed by The Monkeys for MLA last year “You’ll never lamb alone”.
Howie said that other marketers in the category were lifting their game.
“The protein category is getting very competitive,” he said.
“One of the challenges is when you produce fantastic work you are struggling to be better.”
The recruitment of Lee to the role also addresses criticism the lamb marketer faced last year with some claiming the ads were too “whitebread” and dominated by males.
Scott Nowell, co-founder of The Monkeys, said the idea of the campaign was to seed early interest with a teaser released this week.
“You never try to repeat what you have done, but you try to maintain the standard,” said Nowell.
“I really hope two things for this campaign. I hope people are surprised and I hope we sell a shitload of lamb.”
The campaign was released online on Sunday morning and will hit TV on Monday with a heavyweight media schedule in the lead up to Australia Day on January 26.