MLA ad ‘one of the proudest moments of my life and career’, says director Paul Middleditch

Paul Middleditch, the director behind Meat & Livestock Australia’s Australia Day ad, has told Mumbrella creating the campaign is among the proudest moments of his life.

The ad from creative agency The Monkeys features a barbecue on a beach led by three Indigenous Australians who are joined by European settlers as it becomes a huge party.

Timed for January 26, but avoiding use of the phrase “Australia Day”, the work is arguably Australia’s biggest ever ad campaign with multiculturalism as the central message.

“The Australian BBQ, it was interesting when we were making it, because we’d never really seen an ad like it,” Middleditch told Mumbrella.

Middleditch has worked on some of Australia’s best known ads including Carlton Draught’s Big Ad and Flash Beer, and Yellow Pages’ “Not Happy Jan” .

Speaking of the process behind the MLA ad, he said: “The closest we could relate it to really was something like Monty Python, where you take something and mash up a whole series of either different times, or different tones and somehow make it make sense.

“There’s something quite profound about ‘let’s look at this from 2017,’ let’s sit on a beach and our Indigenous roots and look at what this country is,” Middleditch added.

“Something I related it to, is if you imagine having a BBQ in the backyard and all these boats and everything come in, it’s almost like a driveway. Ultimately it took all that serious intent and made something that’s ultimately a very mature view of the Australia we live in now and a very respectful one.

Australia Day MLA

Middleditch: Mature, respectful view of Australia as it is now

“I personally was absolutely thrilled, I thought it was one of the best things I could ever have done in my life and career,” he said.

Middleditch said when sitting down with The Monkeys’ creative leadership of Grant Rutherford, Scott Nowell and Mike Burdick, “tone” was a key area of discussion.

“We all sat down and talked about how do we need to do this right, how do we need to make sure we make the tone of it right, because the previous MLA ad that I had done about diversity, had to be done in a way that was very straight because it was a very loaded message about diversity in advertising.

“But now we were talking about the nature of Australia and Australian culture and the nature of respect and the idea is ‘What is Australia Day? And why do we have to celebrate it in the way that we think we need to?’”

He added: “Trying to put a date or a day to define us as a culture and a people is a very limiting thing. And that’s what I found particularly exciting about working with the Aboriginal actors,” he said.

“It was about understanding what was true to them and what was respectful and being able to see Australia through their eyes, and I think that was really fantastic.


Middleditch: Something to tell his children

“In terms of something where I can say to my children what I did, ‘I did that’ – that would be the proudest thing for sure.

“This was really scary too, because there was so much riding on it, but I think everyone who was involved in it, there was so much love and care put into this,” he said.

News coverage

The ad was widely covered in the media

“Ultimately not everybody is going to feel this is right but I think in general, they did everything they possible could to make sure that however we approached it or however it was going to come across that it was ultimately make us all proud.”


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