Opinion

We really need to address the ‘elephant in the room’: MLA’s lamb ad goes too far

MLA's latest lamb ad suggests lamb is 'the meat we can all eat', while ignoring the fact that Hindu deity Ganesha, one of the ad's stars, is vegetarian. Linkedin's Shiva Kumar explains how the ad missed the mark.

I am all for creativity. I admire brands that embrace bold and brave campaigns that push the creative territory. But I feel this ‘All Faiths Unite Over Lamb’ campaign by The Monkeys for Meat & Livestock Australia has gone a bit too far.

The intended idea behind this campaign seems to be to create more unity among people of diverse faiths and also for those who don’t believe in religion to enjoy a good conversation and food.

However, it fails to respect the sensitivity associated with diverse cultures and the reason why some religions don’t eat certain food and in this case specifically lamb.

I am Indian by birth, I am vegetarian and I also am Hindu. Ganesha is a god that I believe in and one of the most worshipped deities in the Hindu religion.

Any Indian function doesn’t start without praying for Ganesha who is the remover of obstacles. Ganesha, the elephant god, is also vegetarian.

Not funny then, not funny now

Using phrases like: “It’s a nightmare catering for you lot with all your dietary requirements” doesn’t feel like the best portrayal of an inclusive culture and society to me.

“Toasting to lamb – the meat we can all eat” doesn’t really resonate as a message to people like me who are vegetarians.

I can see that Ganesha’s dinner plate also features lamb in this screenshot from the video, unless there is a divine illusion that we can’t explain!

Ganesha, the vegetarian, ready to dine on lamb

Social inclusion is about efforts being made by everyone in society, including brands, to ensure that everyone’s values and beliefs are upheld. It is about giving and getting mutual respect and dignity.

Brands have a responsibility to be more inclusive even if some segment of their audience might not consume their product. They have to be sensitive and authentic in the way they deliver their message, even if they want to flavour it with a little dose of drama.

I loved Meat & Livestock’s previous ‘Celebrate Australia with a lamb BBQ’ campaign. I think they raise important social issues. In this case, I just feel they missed their mark in the way they executed this important message.

Shiva Kumar is LinkedIn’s head of brand and communications, Australia and New Zealand. This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.

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