” The latest Meat and Livestock Association’s (MLA) annual Australia Day ad is out. It’s the first not to mention ‘Australia Day’, but it doesn’t need to. It features a “beach party” scene imitating all textbook illustrations of the arrival of European colonization.
The only thing I can hope for when I watch that ad is that this will be the last Australia Day held on the 26th of January, and that any future attempts to profit from patriotism will not need to try so damn hard to make Australian history, or contemporary Australian society, appear much more inclusive than it actually is. “
The ad perhaps is a fitting theme for Australia Day: forget about or completely misrepresent Australian history and contemporary society, and buy stuff instead.
Enjoy your paid day off, buy a flag cape, buy some alcohol and get drunk, buy some lamb and have a BBQ, and complain about whoever you think isn’t ‘Australian enough’ or about those who choose not to celebrate ‘Australia Day’ and call the day Survival Day, Invasion Day, or a Day of Mourning.
Apart from a brief reference to Aboriginal people having been here “since forever”, the ad crams tens of thousands of years into a quick sound bite. The ad revels in the last 200 years, because apparently, that’s when pretty much anything worth talking about happened.
The attempt to include ‘boat people’ at the end, with the response: “aren’t we all boat people?”, does nothing to redeem the caricatures we’ve just witnessed.
Using sarcasm to say “we’re not racist” is probably the point.
An ad like this can’t lose from a marketing perspective. People who love it will share it and sing its praises, people who hate it will share it and point out its flaws, commentators like myself will comment on it guaranteeing that anyone who reads this and hasn’t seen the ad will watch it, if only so they can make sense of what I am saying. I’m okay with that thought because, for my part at least, I’m not trying to get anyone to boycott lamb or trying to stop anyone from watching the ad.
Love it or hate it, it is still worth a watch.
My goal is trying to get the date of Australia Day changed, and the blind patriotism that goes along with it reduced, not merely extended so that everyone else can be just as blindly patriotic to the notion of ‘Australianity’, or mateship, or ‘One Nation’ or whatever we are calling it these days.
I do however appreciate that all ads are trying to sell something, that is what they’re meant to do, but I think the MLA are trying too hard to tack on their newly discovered ‘sense of inclusivity’ to their core desire to sell more meat.
The idea of a group of marketing executives sitting a room thinking, “Hmmm, how can we make the controversy over Australia Day equal more profits for us?”, just turns me off my lunch.
I can picture the creative team patting each other on the back after coming up with the line, “we’re all boat people” and feeling particularly clever about co-opting a concept that many people have used for years now, albeit for more altruistic motives, namely to combat the term being used to denigrate asylum seekers.
The construct of ‘Australia Day’ is problematic enough for the Australia Day Council given the date that Australia chooses to hold its national day, but to take it one step further to try to sanitise the history of migration to Australian shores is outright impossible.
Justifying the existence of Australia Day being on the 26th of January in order to sell lamb to a more diverse customer base is just too convoluted a plan for my taste.
The only thing I can hope for when I watch that ad is that this will be the last Australia Day held on the 26th of January, and that any future attempts to profit from patriotism will not need to try so damn hard to make Australian history, or contemporary Australian society, appear much more inclusive than it actually is.
I’m sure many people will consider this ad to be a great step forward for representation in Australian media, but personally, I still remember their racist ads of recent years, and I am not buying that this attempted shift of focus has anything other to do with trying to sell more lamb, which I am also not buying.
Maybe I’d have been a bit kinder to this latest attempt if it was a standalone, and not just the next chapter of a series I already don’t like, written for an company I already don’t like, tied to a day that I do not like…
Just change the damn date already.