Local News

Has the latest Australian lamb ad sparked an international incident?

The Indian government has now submitted an official complaint against the "ignorant" ad.

By Kate Wagner
Meat and Livestock Australia are well-known for their grandiose marketing campaigns – often to somewhat of a backlash because it’s 2017 and people, well, they love to complain.
In case you missed it, their latest ad tried to highlight that unlike other meats, such as pork and beef, there’s no religious aversion to feasting on the humble baby sheep.
WATCH: The offending ad below.
While the deities, and Ron L Hubbard, sat around the table sharing food was meant to be a message of inclusivity, it angered many in Australia’s Hindu community who described it as "ignorant and insensitive".
Why? Well Ganesha, Hindu Lord of Good Fortune, is believed to be a vegetarian by followers and as a result, the Indian government has gotten involved.
The Indian high commission said the ad is "offensive" and "hurt the religious sentiments of the Indian community".
The government lodged an official diplomatic complaint to three government departments - Foreign Affairs, Communications and Agriculture – over the offending ad.
WATCH: Since we're talking about lamb, have a look at how to make some delicious lamb ribs.
"The consulate general of India in Sydney has taken up the matter directly with Meat and Livestock Australia and urged them to withdraw the advertisement," the high commission said. "A number of community associations have also registered their protest with [the] government of Australia and Meat and Livestock Australia."
Buddha and his worshippers are also vegetarian, but there has yet to be any complaints from their camp.
The president of the Council of Indian Australians, Mohit Kumar, told Fairfax the Indian government was merely reacting to the vocal concerns amongst the Indian community.
"I can totally understand they didn't mean to offend. I accept the premise of the ad was to show people of different beliefs can come together at the same table and have a meal - no issue with that concept at all,” he told the publication.
"But the execution was very poor. It's not we don't have a sense of humour, we're all Australians at the end of the day. The issue is it's a matter of respect and this is a very disrespectful and insensitive depiction."
The ad went global, appearing in Indian publications like The Hindustan Times and sparked fears that it would feed Indian perceptions that Australians are racist or insensitive.
The company’s marketing team says they conducted extensive consultation with different religious experts before they made the ad and did not intend to offend, but to "promote inclusivity with the idea that people from diverse backgrounds can sit around a table and share a meal together".