The Advertising Standards Bureau will hold a formal hearing into whether Meat & Livestock Australia’s latest Australia Day commercial promotes violence towards vegans, however it will not happen until the middle of next week.
While concerns about the ad, which launched on the weekend, have been raised on a number of fronts, including the military nature of the ad being offensive to indigenous Australians who consider Australia Day “Invasion Day” and the ad being offensive to vegans, the ASB has confirmed it can only hear complaints about the ad that raise concerns over violence.
The campaign, which stars SBS newsreader Lee Lin Chin, has triggered more than 300 complaints to the ASB in 72-hours, putting the campaign on pace to break the record held by infidelity website Ashely Madison, which drew 418 complaints for an ad in 2014.
While the ASB promised to fast track an investigation given the three-week timeframe of the campaign it will not decide whether to ban the ad until at least the middle of next week, to give the marketer a chance to respond to the complaints.
In the ad commandos smash their way into a vegan’s home before torching his dinner with a flame thrower.
The scene has sparked outrage in the vegan and vegetarian communities with people claiming it is promoting violence towards vegans.
Fiona Jolly, chief executive officer of the ASB, said the board would meet a week earlier than usual to hear the complaints.
“Most of the complaints are about the portrayal of vegans, as they are every year,” said Jolly.
“A vast majority of the vegan issue is complainants mention the guy is scared.”
Howie says MLA did not aim to offend
MLA marketing director Andrew Howie said that the marketer had been given less time than most companies to respond to the complaints, but that MLA would be ready for the hearing and will abide by any ruling.
Howie said that while there was wide spread coverage of anger over the campaign he had received dozens of messages from vegans saying they appreciated the ad and its humour.
The Youtube clip of the ad has received 1.79 million views in just three days, while media monitoring has recorded 115 million impressions.
“We might like to cause a stir, but we never set out to cause offence,” said Howie.
“I am surprised though, it has blown up more than I expected. But we need to mobilse the population to buy lamb and keep the flame alight.”
Last year the ASB received a number of complaints about the Australia Day lamb campaign, but judged that it could not make a determination on any of the issues that caused the complaints