Infamous MLA Australia Day ad script leaked

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 17 November 2016
MLA's Spring Lamb ad

Meat & Livestock Australia's (MLA) famed Australia Day ad hasn't even been created yet but it's already causing controversy. It seems the mooted script for one of the most infamous adverts in the Australian calendar has been leaked.

However, group marketing manager at MLA, Andrew Howie, tells AdNews that the leaked document for next year's ad is only an early draft that will be revised before the final version rolls out.

“It’s important to note that media reports have made reference to an early draft of a script dealing with one creative idea. MLA always consults widely in the development of our marketing campaigns as we continually strive to be inclusive of all Australians," Howie says.

Each year Aussies, adland and general meat lovers await with bated (meat) breath to see what Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) and its creative agency, The Monkeys, bring to the dinner table. In recent years the ad has provoked media attention for tackling the controversial subject of Australia Day, as well as offending vegans in the 2016 ad.

In a bid to perhaps spoil the occasion, draw attention to and question controversial "possible" topics due to appear in the ad, a first draft of the script has been leaked - and critisised for its treatment Australia Day which is seen by many as Invasion Day.

The script for the commercial is said to feature Aboriginal people arriving in Australia by canoe, setting up a BBQ for Australia Day and then partying with others, including the British.

AdNews understands that one of the brand's Aboriginal focus groups may have taken a photo the script and shared with BuzzFeed's indigenous affairs reporter Allan Clarke.

The obtained copy of the script, titled The First First Fleet, details the “arrival of the first fleet Terra Australia, late January, 58,000 B.C. (ish).” BuzzFeed goes on to say that The Monkeys has apparently found it difficult to cast the Aboriginal characters due to Indigenous actors “feeling like the commercial trivialises the violent British settlement of Australia”.

Howie says the leaked script was a very early draft, many revisions have since been made and stressed that it's also not the definite ad that the business will roll out.

“We understand there is always a high level of anticipation and interest in MLA’s upcoming lamb advertising campaign, and the 2017 instalment is no different,” Howie says.

“The “We Love our Lamb” campaigns, and MLA as a company, are committed to celebrating diversity and we look forward to sharing our latest ad with all Australians early next year.”

The BuzzFeed story says the ad has Aboriginal people 'baffled', but has no comment from anyone saying they are baffled. One comment under the story reads: “ Yet another racial stereotypical look at how anglo Australians look down on it's own Indigenous peoples.” While another says “Yeah, them actors and "activists", they might be "Baffled. But the rest of us Blackfullas, us Aborigines, we not 'Baffled'”.

Howie says there is an important conversation to be had on this topic and while it's disappointing that a script has been leaked, it's nice that people “give a shit enough” about the MLA ad to want to leak it.

MLA is no stranger to controversy. It's Australia Day 2016 ad garnered more than 400 complaints and created much backlash from vegans.

In September MLA launched its marketing push for spring lamb which centred around and promoted diversity. The ad built on the brand’s ‘we love our lamb’ and ‘you never lamb alone’ concepts but aimed to showcase the diverse nature of modern Australia. It also tackled head on the notion that has been discussed at length which is that there are a lot of the same faces being shown on TV screens and in advertising - so it, in association with its agency The Monkeys, decided to do something about it.

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