‘Aren’t we all boat people?’ MLA drops most political ad yet – and avoids the phrase ‘Australia Day’

Meat & Livestock Australia has launched its most political Australia Day ad to date with a new take on the arrival of the First Fleet and a message around welcoming boat people.

And in a move which could be seen as an acknowledgement of the growing debate around the negative meaning of Australia Day to indigenous Australians, the work has been labelled as MLA’s “January campaign”.

The lamb campaign has been created by The Monkeys and once again directed by Paul Middleditch, who was behind last year’s MLA You Never Lamb Alone ad, as well as Carlton Draught’s acclaimed Big Ad in 2005.

According to this morning’s campaign launch announcement from MLA, which refers to activities taking place on January 26 but doesn’t mention it as Australia Day, the ad “shines a light on who we are as a nation, and celebrates modern Australia no matter what the date.”

The ad opens on an Australian beach with the nation’s first people about to light a barbie.

Then the European settlers arrive, and are welcomed to the party. Each arriving group brings something, including French cheese, German beer, kebabs and Chinese fireworks. The kiwis bring the chilly bin.



Cameos include the original face of MLA’s Australia Day ads Sam Kekovich, Olympian Cathy Freeman,  rugby player Wendell Sailor, Masterchef’s Poh Ling Yeow, cricketer Adam Gilchrist and comedian Rhys Nicholson.

Kekovich: Serbian heritage

Kekovich: Serbian heritage

However, Kevin Rudd is absent from the ad. A leaked early draft of the script had the former PM moving through the crowd saying “sorry, so sorry” in a reference to his famous apology to the Stolen Generation.

In a nod towards the controversy over last year’s “Operation Boomerang” Australia Day campaign – which was the second-most complained about ad of the year after it showed commandos smashing their way into a vegan’s home – vegans get a gentler ride this time.

As a trio of vegans walk up the beach, one of the cast asks “Should we crack a vegan joke?” before the other replies “Nah”.


In one of the allusions to Australia Day, one guest asks: “What’s the occasion?” before another replies “Do we need one?”


The party is then joined by “the boat people”, before Yeow asks “Hang on. Aren’t we all boat people?”


The ad also features a Mardi Gras style float – “the float people” complete with rainbow flags.

According to the announcement, the ad is “again proving lamb is the most multicultural meat”.

Scott Nowell, ECD at The Monkeys said: “The thought behind the ad this year, and following the evolution of lamb over the past 12 months, was to celebrate all the people who have contributed to making this country great, uniting the way we know best at this time of year, over a lamb barbecue. This time everyone was and is invited to be part of it.”

The online version of the ad, which launched today, will be followed by a 30-second TV ad airing from Sunday until Australia Day with the bulk of spend going to Nine including integration with Today and the network’s cricket coverage.

The campaign will also be supported by an on-air partnership with Nova presenters Fitzy & Wippa – Ryan Fitzgerald and Michael Wipfli – who are also currently promoting KFC.

Nine and Nova will do a live broadcast from The Big BBQ taking place at Parramatta Park on January 26.

Andrew Howie, group marketing manager at MLA said, “As a brand, Lamb stands for unity. Australia is the greatest country on earth and lamb is the nation’s favourite meat. Hence we have brought those two things together to prove we should be able to celebrate this great country every day of the year.”

In December MLA’s spring lamb ad campaign ‘ You Never Lamb Alone’ won the People’s Choice award and the Communication Award at the 2016 Multicultural Marketing Awards.

MLA won the People's Choice award at the 2016 Multicultural Marketing Awards

MLA won the People’s Choice award at the 2016 Multicultural Marketing Awards


  • MLA – Group Marketing Manager – Andrew Howie
  • MLA – Lamb Brand Manager – Matthew Dwyer
  • Creative Agency – The Monkeys
  • Executive Creative Director – Scott Nowell
  • Creative Director – Grant Rutherford
  • Senior Art Director – Paul Sharp
  • Senior Copywriter – Mike Burdick
  • Head of Production – Thea Carone
  • Senior Broadcast Producer – Jade Rodriguez
  • Planning Director – Michael Hogg
  • Managing Director – Matt Michael
  • Group Content Director – Humphrey Taylor
  • Content Director – Katie Wong-Hee
  • Content Manager – Victoria Zourkas
  • Production Company – Plaza Films
  • Director – Paul Middleditch
  • Executive Producer – Peter Masterton
  • Head of Production – Megan Ayers
  • DOP – Daniel Ardilley
  • Production Design – Sal Boucher
  • Wardrobe – Natasha Harrison
  • Make Up – Jane Atherton
  • DOP – Jeremy Fitzgerald
  • Music Composition – Lamp Music
  • Music Composer – Adam Gock
  • Sound Design – Song Zu
  • Edit – The Editors
  • Editor – David Whittaker
  • Post Production – Fin Design
  • VFX Supervisor – Richard Betts
  • Media Agency – UM
  • PR Agency – One Green Bean

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