The Ad Standards panel has cleared Meat & Livestock Australia’s Summer Lamb campaign of being either racist or homophobic.
MLA’s campaign, Lamb Side Story, which turned the wars between Australia’s left and right factions into a satirical West Side Story-style musical, was labelled in a complaint as “offensive”, “outdated”, “racist” and “homophobic”.
The ad includes a cameo performance by “Lambassador” Sam Kekovich (pictured) as an angry neighbour who hoses one “fence-sitter” off his fence plus a character many on social media believe is meant to be controversial far-right commentator Milo Yiannopoulos.
The official description of the campaign declares: “In a diverse and free nation we are bound to have differences, however the content aims to shine a light on what unites us, rather than divides us, and celebrates Aussies putting their differences aside to come together over a ‘barbie’.”
In January, Kekovich told The New Daily he felt the ad had done a good job of representing the “state of confusion” in Australian politics.
“I think there’s a propensity to overdose on tolerance and political correctness but I’m not so sure that’s because we’re racist, or homophobic, or toxic in any way,” he said.
“I think there’s just naivety and ignorance in a lot of issues and I think we’re just going through some growing pains.”
However, a complaint to Ad Standards claimed the ad was offensive to literally anyone who has ever held any point of view ever.
“It’s humour is outdated, racist, homophobic – I could go on. It seems to think it’s satire but it’s just genuinely offensive.
“In such a climate as the one we have now poking fun at political correctness is absolutely so on the nose I can’t believe it was allowed at all.”
MLA argued the ad was simply “a satirical take on the Broadway classic, West Side Story”, according to Mumbrella.
“The overriding message of the advertisement is one of inclusiveness, regardless of political belief or any other social values.
“There is nothing in the advertisement that reveals inequity, bigotry, intolerance towards or unfair treatment of any such group,” they said in response to the complaint.
The Ad Standards panel agreed, saying there wasn’t anything in the ad which referred to a particular race or ethnicity.
“At no point was any one person in the advertisement singled out or treated in a manner which was discriminatory or vilifying on the basis of race or ethnicity,” they said.
Dismissing the complaint and clearing the ad, the panel agreed the ad treated both groups equally and didn’t discriminate against any particular person or group.