The Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) has dismissed complaints that Meat & Livestock Australia's recent "you'll never lamb alone" campaign was racist towards white people.
The ad features a diverse cast of Australians including TV presenter Luke Jacobz, Indigenous athletes Greg Inglis and Catherine Freeman, Indigenous model Samantha Harris, transgender comedian Jordan Raskopoulos, and Bengali-Australian actor Arka Das.
It begins with Jacobz saying he's here to address concerns that too many "perky white males are contributing to a lack of diversity on our screens", before being replaced by Das, who interacts with a diverse cast of Aussies, including a Muslim family, a same-sex couple, and yes, even some white people.
The ad concludes by saying lamb is the meat that brings Aussies together.
Several people complained to the ASB, saying the ad vilified white people.
"He [Jacobz, who is caucasian] was racist in his comments about to [sic] many white people on TV and it was racist and offended me," one complainant said.
Another said: "I'm anti-racist no matter what race is being vilified including white people. This
advertisement clearly states 'too many WHITE people' in its commercial which is highly offensive."
A third said: "The very first thing the person says is both sexist and racist. The person points out that they are white and male saying that this adds to a lack of diversity. Pointing out someone’s race and gender in an advertisement and then denigrating such race or gender is both racist and sexist."
Another complainant took issue with the fact that Das had welcomed "people of colour" in the ad.
One Indigenous person complained that the ad had not represented Indigenous Australians adequately, saying, "It was a great opportunity for a person of Aboriginal decent to respond but throughout the advert I saw no presentation of our original landowners. I think that's wrong or at the least it's disappointing."
Meat & Livestock Australia responded by saying the complainants had misunderstood the ad.
"The advertisements celebrate diversity and do not promote any act of discrimination, prejudice or vilification," it said in a submission to the ASB. "The advertisements depict a scene which unites Australians from all sections of the community to illustrate that lamb is the meat that doesn't discriminate.
The board dismissed the complaints, saying the ads "did not portray or depict material in a way which discriminates against or vilifies a person or section of the community on account of race".
Rob Stott is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.
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