Calls to ban ‘insulting’ lamb ad featuring Ganesha dismissed by standards bureau


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The Advertising Standards Bureau has dismissed complaints about the controversial meat ad featuring Lord Ganesha eating lamb, which removes any obstacles to have it removed from circulation.

The Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) ad was released in early September and caused a stir after it showed a group of various religious divinities, gods and prophets seated around the table enjoying a meal.

Complaints came thick and fast with the Hindu community upset that Lord Ganesha, a symbol of vegetarianism, was linked to an ad selling meat.

Despite calls from the Indian government, the Hindu Council of Australia and a Liberal MP to ban the ad, the ASB found Lord Ganesha was depicted in a positive light during the commercial and it did not breach the standards code.

Calls to ban 'insulting' lamb ad featuring Ganesha dismissed by standards bureau
Hindu deity Ganesha in the video ad released by Meat and Livestock Australia.

“Following considerable discussion the majority of the board considered that the overall tone of the advertisement is light-hearted and humorous and in their view the intent is to be inclusive in a manner which promotes a harmonious and multi-faith environment,” the review read.

“The majority of the board considered that the depiction of Lord Ganesha was overall a positive and depiction and that his inclusion in a scene that might suggest he can eat meat is not less favourable than the manner in which the other religions are also depicted.”

The ASB said while many Hindus are vegetarian, vegetarianism is not a requirement of this faith.

It said the depiction of Lord Ganesh was “simply symbolic of the Hindu faith and his inclusion is part of the message of an inclusive multi-faith meal”.

The board also found the commercial “does not denigrate Christianity or Christians” after it showed Jesus making a joke and performing a “reverse miracle”.

The Hindu Council of Australia called for the ad to be banned, saying it was a “crude and deplorable attempt by Meat and Livestock Australia to use images of Ganesha to promote lamb consumption”.

Karthik Arasu, a member of Melbourne’s Hindu community, said the decision was disappointing.

“It’s an unfortunate decision… we will take all measures possible to stop harassment, bullying and Hinduphobia by Meat & Livestock Australia,” Mr Arasu told SBS Punjabi.

Calls to ban 'insulting' lamb ad featuring Ganesha dismissed by standards bureau
Hindu deity Ganesha in the video ad released by Meat and Livestock Australia.

“I hope Lord Ganehsa will give them the understanding of respecting others.”

The Hindu Council of Australia said it planned to hold nationwide protests against Meat & Livestock Australia on Sunday.

“Our protest is against the insensitivity shown by MLA against the Hindu community even as both sides of politics have supported us in our call for revoking this ad,” Balesh Dhankhar, spokesperson for the Hindu Council of Australia told SBS Punjabi.

The timing of the ad was especially bad with Ganesha celebrations in full swing for the Hindu community in Australia on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi.

“The portrayal of a Hindu God (Lord Ganesha) along with the talk of lamb in the advert is disgraceful, offensive and inappropriate,” a complaint to the ASB read.

“Lord Ganesha represents vegetarianism since he is a vegetarian. Most Hindus are vegetarians. This is very offensive and misinformation to represent him in this way. How can a vegetarian diet be used to sell meat eating.”

The Hindu community in Australia and the Indian government had expressed their anger at the use of Ganesha in the commercial.

Calls to ban 'insulting' lamb ad featuring Ganesha dismissed by standards bureau

The Indian government launched a diplomatic request to withdraw the advertisement. The statement read the Indian consulate in Sydney was dealing with MLA to take down the commercial.

Meat and Livestock Australia followed up the decision with a statement welcoming the ABS Board’s decision.

“MLA welcomes the Advertising Standards Bureau’s dismissal of complaints that MLA breached the Advertising Standards Code in its latest Lamb advertising campaign,” the MLA statement read.

“Like previous “You Never Lamb Alone” campaigns, this year’s Spring Lamb campaign seeks to promote the value of unity and inclusivity. There was never an intention to offend, rather we wanted to ensure that we were as inclusive as possible.

“To this end, those religions that don’t typically eat red meat are not shown consuming Lamb in the advertisement but are still invited to the table.

“MLA advertisements have a history of being irreverent and jovial, but we are a responsible advertiser acting always with the intent of adhering to the Advertising Standards Code. Today’s outcome reflects our ongoing commitment to the Code and to responsible advertising.”

The ad has more than one million views on Youtube.

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