The latest ad from Meat and Livestock Australia is drawing a lot of negative comments from the public.

As someone from marketing background and serving as Ethnic Media Advisor for an NGO, I also find this ad highly disturbing and offensive.

Here’s the video on YouTube:

 

Without launching into the video, anyone with a sensible mind would know not to use religion, especially religious or spiritual leaders, to convey your brand value or advertising message.

It just does. Not. Work.

There is absolutely no grey line here.

It’s not that some people lack humour or taking this ad too seriously.

Please take a moment to think what does religion mean. It is the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.

Religion is a very personal thing. So when you show religion in ads, that ad becomes personal. And if it doesn’t connect with audience in the slightest accurate way, the reaction will flare up faster than you can say “lamb is for everyone”.

There are many ways to convey the message of diversity and unity that touch the hearts and connect with the minds.

Here’s an example of a very successful message of unity about people from different cultural backgrounds:

 

So, what could MLA have done differently to convey that lamb is for everyone this spring? Here are some ideas that I came up with:

1. Straight forward storyline: Showcase how lamb is cooked in different cultures but still bring people together. Illustrate the writing of lamb in various culinary presentation, and where in Australia you can taste them. I mean have you seen how lamb is cooked in Xinjiang province? This is a great collab with high-end culinary outlets across Australia. Supply them with the best cuts for free and use that as a distribution strategy.

2. Quirky storyline: Show a Chinese man cooking lamb in a non-Chinese way with the wife suspecting him of adultery but turns out the Chinese man learnt this MLA’s free cooking workshop (another great marketing angle for cross-promo) to impress her for their upcoming anniversary dinner. Swap out Chinese with other ethnic groups for ad rotation.

3. Out there storyline: Count the sheeps during sleep by various ethnic groups. Fade out the sheep into various cooking style. Fade in the actual sheep again. Another storyline is to line up top chefs from various countries disagreeing on which are the top dishes using protein other than lamb, until one of the contestants served up a lamb dish which all the various ethnic judges finally agreed on. Call to action includes various chef’s cooking style of lamb. Another great opportunity for collabs.

4. MasterChef style: MC Australia is such a big hit, why not get the top contestants of different ethnic background to do a cook off and share their recipes?

 

Perhaps MLA knew about this ad could potentially backfire and embrace the notion of “Any publicity is good publicity”.

In the current world where race and religion are causing so much tension, it’s highly insensitive and inappropriate to capitalise on that.

Lamb is one of my favourite protein but in the context of this ad by MLA, it has quickly become tasteless.

 

Eric Chuah is the founder of Cultural Connections, a multicultural consulting firm working with government agencies, community groups, and private sector in New Zealand. He is currently serving as Independent Advisor for Multicultural New Zealand; Board Trustee for Auckland Regional Migrant Services; and Ethnic Media Advisor for New Zealand Human Rights Commission.