Melbourne : In a U-turn, Australia’s advertising watchdog has ruled that a controversial advertisement featuring Lord Ganesha and other divinities promoting consumption of lamb meat violated the country’s advertising standard code.
The advertisement was released in September by the Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), triggering widespread protests from the Indian community in the country as well across the globe. Members of the Hindu community of Australia filed a complaint with the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) at that time claiming it had hurt their religious sentiments.
The advertisement also prompted the Indian High Commission in Canberra to lodge a complaint with the Australian government asking for its removal. Initially the ASB found that the advertisement by the MLA was not in breach of code. Considering several points of submission, the board said “after taking into account the Independent Reviewer’s finding that the board gave insufficient weight to the views of complainants in regards to the Elephant Comment, the board determined that the advertisement breached section 2.1 of the Code and upheld complaints.”
According to the latest decision, the board noted “Lord Ganesha was a deity that signified perfection so to criticise his appearance would be likely to be seen as ridiculing the Hindu religion and by extension some followers of that faith.” “The majority of the board therefore considered that the Elephant comment amount to a depiction or portrayal of material which discriminated against a person on account of their Hindu religion,” the ASB noted. It further noted that the reference made in the advertisement about ‘elephant in the room’ was a tongue in cheek way of referring to an unpleasant or negative issue.
It said that the board recognised that the advertiser was known for presenting laid back advertisements with edgy Australian humour.