Australia Day lamb ad: Marketing Masterstroke or Mistake?

Meat and Livestock Australia have today released their annual Australia Day “Lamb Side Story” ad to mixed reviews.



The Broadway-style ad harks back to the musical West Side Story using gangs to symbolise the left and right sides of Australian politics. Those on the right side make disparaging comments about climate change, political correctness and gay rights, while those of the left claim to “stick up for the little guy/girl”.


In the middle of all of this, is a suburban mother who unifies the warring sides by reminding them of their mutual love for lamb. The choir then help themselves to a lamb chop and parade around for a final kumbaya moment, exclaiming “We love our lamb!”. Although, it’s not a compete lovefest with viewers taking to social media to express their grievances.


Admittedly, there are some clever moments in this ad. Particularly the pivot away from the hyper-masculine nature of previous lamb ads which had Sam Kekovich talking down the barrel of the camera about ‘un-Australianism’.


Making the central character a middle-aged woman is a clever move considering women make 93% of food related consumer purchases (Yankelovich Monitor & Greenfield Online).


Additionally, a character on the right side resembling a blonde haired, sunglasses wearing, sassy Milo Yiannopoulous calls the leader of the right “daddy” – the same name Yiannopoulous reserves for Donald Trump. There is also a Malcolm Turnbull look-a-like sitting on a literal fence and a cameo from original lamb man Sam Kekovich, who blasts the fence-sitter with a garden hose.


The annual lamb ads have become renowned for tackling issues of diversity and multiculturalism, albeit to varying degrees of criticism. Last year saw a lamb ad banned for being offensive to the Indian community when depicting Hindu God Ganesha as a meat eater, despite being known as a vegetarian.


On the contrary, another lamb ad featuring Cathy Freeman, Poh Ling Yeow, Wendell Sailor and Adam Gilchrist went viral with its “Aren’t we all boat people” catch cry. The ad was widely praised for its simple yet nuanced comment on the polarising topic of immigration.


But when it comes to the 2018 offering, the same argument just doesn’t hold up. 12 years later, the idea of putting our differences aside and becoming united over our love for lamb is becoming tiresome.


Speaking of tiresome, the inclusion of a flamboyant gay man in the ad appears to make a comment on Australia’s recent legalization of gay marriage, but the reliance on an overused stereotype to represent a gay person is painfully unoriginal.


Previous lamb ads portrayed minority representatives with respect and challenged stereotypes, whereas this ad does nothing more than reinforce them.


Commenters online have labelled the three-minute ad “vomit inducing” and “too long”.


Comedian Dave Hughes has also previously questioned how eating meat makes you more, or less, Australian.


And considering the British Medical Journal and World Health Organisation have conceded that a high consumption of meat increases your chances of cancer, stroke, heart disease etc. should we be questioning something more than, ‘Is this ad any good’?


Most probably … but that’s a whole other ‘Lamb Side Story’.


Ultimately, this ad is uninspiring, lacks nuance and is too damn long. But no one could sum it up better than Anton Posa on Twitter who labelled it, “#CringeSideStory”.


So for these reasons, this week, it’s a Marketing Mistake.


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Written By: Rob