Hindus protest denigration of Lord Ganesha in meat advertisement

Meat & Livestock Australia comes under fire for irresponsible marketing

Rajen Zed

Nevada, USA, September 15, 2017

The High Commission of India in Australia (Canberra) have made a demarche to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Department of Communication and Arts and Department of Agriculture bringing to their notice an offensive advertisement by Meat and Livestock Australia that hurt the religious sentiments of the Indian community.

I welcome this initiative of formal diplomatic representation of the official position regarding the insensitive advertisement, urged the Australian authorities to impose fine on Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) for hurting the sentiments of Hindus and other religious communities; besides asking MLA to immediately withdraw “You Never Lamb Alone” video advertisement.

Resignation demanded

MLA Board Chair Dr Michele Allan and Managing Director Richard Norton should resign for apparently working against the interests of the organisation by upsetting consumers instead of charming them. With strong condemnation of this insensitive ad world over, MLA appeared to be harming it “core focus” of delivering “value to its 50,000 levy paying members by growing demand for red meat.

I urge Australia Advertising Standards Bureau to act urgently against this advertisement, which seemed to make fun of Lord Ganesha.

Lord Ganesha is highly revered in Hinduism and is meant to be worshipped in Temples or home shrines and not to be used in selling lamb meat for mercantile greed.

Moreover, linking Lord Ganesha with meat is very disrespectful and highly inappropriate.

Other denunciations

Senior Greek Orthodox Christian Priest Stephen R Karcher, Buddhist Priest Matthew T Fisher and well-known Jewish Rabbi in Nevada-California ElizaBeth Webb Beyer have also denounced lamb marketing using religious figures, which they said trivialised various religious figures; and urging withdrawal of the video advertisement. Unnecessarily dragging religious figures, who were highly revered by the adherents of their respective faiths, to sell Australian lamb meat was very disrespectful, highly inappropriate and could be disturbing for some faithful, they added in a joint statement in Nevada.

Violation of code

It was highly irresponsible of MLA to continue with this advertisement despite the clear expression by Hindus that it was very inappropriate and hurt their feelings.

“Acts responsibly” was among The Code of Business Conduct and Ethics of MLA, and it seemed to clearly violate it with this advertisement. If this apparent MLA stubbornness continued despite universal condemnation, Hindus might think of launching worldwide boycott of Australian lamb meat.

Mission’s Statement

India High Commission release further said: “In a video advertisement released by Meat and Livestock Australia recently, Lord Ganesha along with other religious figures is found to be ‘toasting lamb,’ which the Indian community considers to be offensive and hurting their religious sentiments. The Consulate General of India in Sydney has taken up the matter directly with Meat and Livestock Australia and urged them to withdraw the advertisement.

This “new integrated campaign continues with the theme that Lamb is the dish that brings everyone together, with the creative content for online, social and TV showing the Gods, Goddesses and Prophets of different faiths and beliefs coming together over Lamb at a modern-day spring barbecue,” an MLA release about the video ad states.

MLA, with about 50,000 livestock producer members and headquartered in North Sydney, “delivers research, development and marketing services to Australia’s cattle, sheep and goat producers.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8kuoFGgj8s&t=1s

Rajen Zed President, Universal Society of Hinduism based in Nevada (USA).

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