Jesus, Ganesh, Aphrodite and L Ron Hubbard join the world’s religious leaders in the latest, and arguably most controversial lamb ad yet.
Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) released the ad on Monday, and by Tuesday it was referred to the Advertising Standards Bureau over an apparent lack of sensitivity in its portrayal of religious leaders and divinities.
In the ad, Jesus is joined by an alien, a Buddhist and other gods and goddesses to enjoy a lamb lunch, with an atheist announcing: ‘What about we toast to lamb, the meat we can all eat?’
The advertisement attracted a huge backlash, with viewers slamming it as ‘ignorant’.
‘This is really disgusting guys! Please bring down this ad. As ignorant as you are, the Elephant God does not eat meat,’ one man said.
‘This is disrespectful to Hindu religion, hurting our sentiments and a senseless campaign. Your team has got it totally wrong by implying Lord Ganesha is having lamb at the dinner table with other gods,’ another man said.
‘For your information, Hindu gods and meat do not go together.’
Others ‘demanded’ the ad be withdrawn immediately.
‘I demand an unconditional apology and that you revoke this campaign immediately,’ one man said.
In the ad, the Gods poke fun at Ganesha and say ‘So can we address the elephant in the room?’ to which the Hindu god replies ‘It’s not funny, it wasn’t funny two and a half thousand years ago and it’s not funny now’.
The ad also makes a joke at Scientology’s expense.
When Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard discovers Aphrodite is ‘famous’ he offers her some lamb and says: ‘Have you ever thought about scientology?’
Hubbard is urged to steer clear of religious based discussion at the table, to which he replies: ‘I gave up dinner with Tom Cruise for this’.
While gods from most religions made an appearance, Muhammad, the prophet and founder of Islam, did not.
The depiction of Muhammad has been a contentious issue, with Islamic teachings prohibiting Muslims from drawing him.
His lack of appearance in the ad prompted backlash.
‘Poor ad. Obviously scared of offending Muslims, leaving Muhammad out, but all other religions are fair game,’ one man said.
Since the ad was released on Monday, a Hindu group has issued a formal request to the Australia Advertising Standards Bureau to ban the ad.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed said Lord Ganesha was ‘highly revered in Hinduism and he was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be used in selling lamb meat for mercantile greed’.
‘Linking Lord Ganesha with meat was very disrespectful and highly inappropriate.’
While there were hundreds of comments calling for the ad to be dumped, some were more supportive of its message.
‘Oh come on, it’s a joke and I find it hilarious, especially the Tinder match and about Tom Cruise,’ one man said.
‘Didn’t you notice the message about ‘getting along together’?’
The advertisement was not the first to land Meat and Livestock Australia in hot water.
The MLA released a controversial Australia Day campaign in 2016 in which it spoke about racial insensitivity.
The ad garnered more than 400 complaints but was eventually cleared by the Australian Advertising Standards Bureau.