Ganesha eating meat! Dear lord, what was MLA thinking?
An ad released by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) this Monday (September 4, 2017), which shows gods and goddesses, along with world’s religious leaders and even an alien, sitting at a table eating lamb, has come in for severe criticisms for depicting Lord Ganesha eating meat. There is also a part in the ad where the gods poke fun at Ganesha, saying, “So can we address the elephant in the room?”
The ad has been criticised for being ignorant about world customs and hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus the world over. A day after the ad was released, on September 5, the ad was referred to Australia Advertising Standards Bureau even as Hindu groups called for banning the ad.
Speaking about the offensive campaign in various media publications in the West, Ram Bansal, President of the Indian Society of Western Australia, said, “It is painful to see Ganeshji being portrayed as a meat eater, wine drinker and in search for a new marketing strategy for himself.”
Daily Mail quoted Hindu statesman Rajan Zed as saying that Lord Ganesha is worshipped in temples and home shrines and not to be used for “selling lamb meat for mercantile greed”. “Linking Lord Ganesha with meat was very disrespectful and highly inappropriate,” he added.
A Twitter user, Ashutosh Raina, tweeted, “Pathetic campaign 2 say the least. #LambAd cud hav bn promoted in different & respectful manner. Wondr why som minority ones missing! APOLOGY.”
Another Twitter user, Karthic Sinnadurai, tweeted, “Sorry but this lamb ad is just so offensive. Cant belive they didnt do the research #lambad.”
Sowmya Madabhushi wrote: “This is really disgusting guys! Please bring down this ad. As ignorant as you are, the Elephant God does not eat meat! What are you tryig to prove you morons!”
Anuj Gupta wrote: “This is a disrespect to Hindu religion…Your team has got it totally wrong by implying Lord Ganesha us having lamb at a dinner table with other gods…I demand an unconditional apology and you revoke this campaign immediately.”
It was also pointed out how the ad leaves out showing Prophet Muhammad. Islamic teachings prohibit drawings or depictions of Muhammad. Perhaps the killings by Islamist terrorists of the staff of French magazine ‘Charlie Hebdo’ for carrying caricatures of Muhammad was not too far away from the minds of the makers of the MLA ad.
The campaign has been created by The Monkeys, a creative agency based in Sydney, Australia, which has also worked on several other campaigns for MLA in the past. MLA ads are not new to controversies.
An Australia Day campaign released in 2016 faced a lot of backlash for racial insensitivity. There were over 400 complaints against the ad.
Meanwhile, MLA has defended the ad saying that it seeks to position lamb as the meat people can eat regardless of their religious beliefs, background or dietary requirements. In statement issued by MLA, Group Marketing Manager Andrew Howie clarified, “The campaign features gods, prophets and deities from across a wide range of religions alongside atheism, in a clearly fantastic nature, with the intent of being as inclusive as possible. Our intent is never to offend, but rather acknowledge that lamb is a meat consumed by a wide variety of cultures and capture how the world could look if people left their differing views at the door and came to the table with open arms, and minds.”