The Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) has dismissed complaints against a controversial lamb ad featuring Lord Ganesha despite outrage from various sections of the Hindu community. The ad by Meat and Livestock Australia, which aired earlier this month, depicts Lord Ganesha and several other deities and religious figures as ‘toasting lamb’, which Hindu community leaders said was in “bad taste” and “degrading” to Hinduism.
The ASB though has stated that the spot, created by Sydney-based advertising agency The Monkeys, “does not, in its depiction, provide any one character with less favourable or unfair treatment by virtue of being in the group, nor is the depiction of the group done in a manner that subjects one character to humiliation, intimidation, hatred or ridicule by virtue only of being part of the group meal”.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) said that ASB’s decision clearly signalled that the current system of so-called advertising “self-regulation” was not effectively working in Australia. “This case has highlighted that integrity of this advertising self-regulation system is highly doubtful,” he said.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, urged Mitch Fifield, Australia Minister for Communications and the Arts, to move the advertising regulation to his department and dismiss ASB, which he said had “blatantly failed to deliver despite the high community resentment”.
Rajan Zed noted that with the majority of the Bureau Board members coming from marketing backgrounds, ASB seemed to have turned deaf ear to the feelings of communities and instead favoured professional colleagues in advertising.
Zed further said that “impartial” ASB chose to ignore its own “aim of self-regulation”, which was supposed to “maintain high advertising standards and ensure consumer trust and protection for the benefit of all of the community”.
ASB seemed to have lost its “sense of social responsibility to the consumer and society as a whole”, Zed indicated.
Zed has appealed to Australian media operators to reject the ad on their respective platforms as a gesture of goodwill to the communities hurt by the ad.
Rajan Zed also urged Australia Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce to impose fines on “producer-owned” MLA.
With ad campaigns like MLA’s “You Never Lamb Alone”, which had created more negative vibes than positive, Australia should be concerned about expanding its meat and livestock exports to over 100 countries and producers should be worried about profitability, Zed pointed out.