MLA ad complaints rocket to more than 400

Complaints over Meat and Livestock Australia's latest tongue-in-cheek Australia Day ad have risen to more than 400, ahead of a fast-tracked review into the ad by the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) next week.

The ad has been the subject of controversy since it launched on Sunday, mostly over the portrayal of a vegan's house being set on fire in a raid to reclaim expat Aussies and bring them to a lamb BBQ.

However, the ad has been spoken of highly in the creative community.

The ASB confirmed to AdNews that the complaints against the ad across all media have now risen to more than 400. It falls far short of the record, held by extra-martial dating agency Ashley Madison, which had 480 ads specifically for television, but more than 600 when all media were included.

The ASB is fast-tracking a review process into the ad, scheduled for next week – ahead of Australia Day.

The MLA ad, from Sydney-based creative agency The Monkeys, stars Lee Lin Chin and focuses on bringing overseas Australians home for Australia Day, and reminding them that ‘lamb brings people together’ on the national holiday.

Speaking to AdNews, MLA group marketing manager Andrew Howie says the overall sentiment to the ad has been positive, noting it is in the process of addressing the complaints.

“We are respectful that the ASB is being put under a lot of pressure, waiting for the Australia Day campaign is not their only work,” Howie says.

“We will respond to all complaints that are sent through to us, but it's a bit of worry when Australia is more concerned with a satirical flame thrower than infidelity.”

Howie also says all the brands asks is that those who love the ad go to and buy some product, so the MLA can prove that this kind of brave marketing gets results.

He also tells AdNews the ad has been viewed 2.3 million times, with over 450 pieces of media coverage and the cumulative audience sitting at around 215 million, adding: “Every man, woman, child and newborn in Australia has read something about this campaign around 10 times.”

The ad has also drawn a divisive response from AdNews readers. One reader commented: “ I have several issues with this advertisement. The first is the subtle racism. Do people not remember what Australia day is? It is celebrating the invasion of this country.”

“My second issue is the insensitive comments about veganism... to imply that it is un-Australian to not enjoy lamb is absurd. Is our culture really just about barbecues and backyard cricket? In this ad that is how we are depicted.”

Others were quick to defend the campaign.

“One of the most suitable advertisements incorporating Australia Day that I have seen,” a reader said. “Well done MLA. Your Lamb campaigns are always well targeted and topical.”

Last year's MLA commercial featured a gluten-intolerant Ned Kelly, but didn't seem to muster the same reaction from coeliacs.

However in 2014, MLA's Australia Day campaign was one of the top complained about ads of the year and saw “lambassador'' Sam Kekovich hand a lamb chop to a toddler wearing a “vegan and proud” T-shirt. Complaints against MLA for the advert were dismissed.

Did you miss any of the MLA Aus Day coverage on AdNews?

Lee Lin Chin stars in MLA’s Australia Day epic

A look through 10 years of MLA’s Australia Day

Creatives unpack MLA Australia Day campaign

'We're not big spenders, we're big thinkers' - MLA marketer

MLA faces backlash over 'disrespectful' Australia Day campaign

'Save our Lamb ad' campaign support fires up

MLA ad is closest Australia gets to John Lewis Xmas ad

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