A group of men and women are seated at a dinner table having meat for a meal: doesn’t seem very offensive, does it?
Now imagine all of these men and women dressed up as different religious deities. Right from Zeus and Aphrodite to Jesus and Moses to the Hindu god Ganesha. Even Mohammed finds a mention.
Except, all of them are supposedly eating lamb meat.
Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) landed itself in a soup when it released a new advertisement on Monday to promote lamb as the ‘food of the gods’— literally.
The Hindu god Ganesha is also seated at the table, and partakes in the friendly banter in the ad. When one of the deities asks “Let’s address the elephant in the room?”, Ganesha replies, “Not funny two-and-a-half thousand years ago, not funny now.” Even though one of the gods declared “Let’s not get into religion at the table,” the damage was already done.
Many comments on social media show that people have found the ad offensive to Hindu religion and disrespectful of Hindu deities who do not eat meat.
“This is a disrespect to Hindu Religion, hurting our sentiments and a senseless campaign (sic),” wrote one user in the comments section on Facebook. He also demanded an unconditional apology from MLA and that the campaign be revoked. Another person described the ad as “sick, ridiculous and disgraceful nonsense”.
This Facebook user’s sentiments were echoed by many others, who said they were offended by MLA’s campaign.
It wasn’t just Indians who found the ad offensive either, but these were far lesser in number.
There were others too, of course, who supported MLA and told people who found the ad offensive to ‘get over it’.
Soon enough, the Hindu Council of Australia also issued a statement on their own Facebook page, calling the ad a “crude and deplorable comment” by MLA.
“Ganesha celebrations are happening for for last 10 days around the world and special period for Hindu community in Australia. MLA has tried to stir the controversy by using religious theme and using religious icons to gain the attention,” it added, also calling for the removal of the “unnecessary promotion”.
MLA has not yet responded to the viewers’ complaints.
However, it is not the first time however that an MLA campaign has landed in trouble. Last year, their Australia Day campaign drew flak for being racist and for a particular scene where a vegan character’s kale was torched. The Advertising Standards Bureau of Australia received over 300 complaints about the ad, despite which the ad was ultimately cleared.