Andrew Howie, MLA’s group marketing manager said the levy board’s “intent is never to offend”, but it seems that the campaign did exactly that.
MLA is facing growing pressure to ditch its controversial lamb advert after Hindus threated to boycott Australian lamb and called for the resignation of the red meat board’s two highest-ranking staff members.
In response to the criticism, Howie said: “Our ‘You Never Lamb Alone’ campaigns have promoted the value of unity and inclusivity - this latest campaign instalment is no different.
‘Open arms and minds’
“The campaign features gods, prophets and deities from across a wide range of religions alongside atheism, in a clearly fantastic nature, with the intent of being as inclusive as possible. To achieve this we undertook extensive research and consultation.
“Our intent is never to offend, but rather acknowledge that lamb is a meat consumed by a wide variety of cultures and capture how the world could look if people left their differing views at the door and came to the table with open arms, and minds.”
After the spectacular nature in which MLA’s lamb campaign backfired, the board may have indirectly attained what it sought: inclusivity.
Leaders from Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish religious circles issued a joint statement calling on MLA to withdraw the advert for what they claim “trivialises various religious figures”.
Greek orthodox Christian priest Stephen Karcher, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, Buddhist priest Matthew Fisher and Jewish rabbi Elizabeth Webb Beyer have condemned the advert.
Using religious figures to drive up lamb consumption was “very disrespectful, highly inappropriate and could be disturbing for some faithful,” the four faith leaders said in a statement.
“Love, and not lamb meat, united us and brought us together. Moreover, icons of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled, taken frivolously and inappropriately used.”
However, not everyone has been incensed by the advert. In a comment to an earlier article on the issue, a GlobalMeatNews reader said: “Everyone I’ve spoken to on this topic thought it was an ok ad and the religious offense was more funny than anything they cared about.”