MLA "Operation Boomerang" ad footage used by Aussie Farms: MLA threatens suit

The over the top Operation Boomerang ad for Australia's Meat and Livestock Association featuring Lambassador Sam Kekovich and celebrities like Lee Lin Chin has been recycled by an animal rights group with the opposite message. More specifically the group Aussie Farms has used 7 seconds of the opening scene, where Lee Lin Chin says "Commence 'Operation Boomerang'", then we cut to footage that has been described as "sheep being slaughtered with without adequate stunning." Not a pleasant sight, you've been warned.

The ad, embedded from Vimeo below, is titled "Hilarious behind the scenes clip from the new Aus Day Lamb Ad" and the description text teases. "There's more to the latest Australia Day Lamb Ad than meets the eye..." thereby quite obviously riding the SEO goodwill of MLA's current publicity run. Similar to how GoldieBlox mooched off Beastie Boys name in meta tags and title with their viral ad.

Executive Director of Aussie Farms, Chris Delforce, said to Sunshine Coast Daily: "Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) are clearly embarrassed by this video, which has been seen by over 15,000 people in just 3 days. They're demanding I take it offline immediately, citing copyright infringement, but of course it falls squarely within the definition of Fair Use."
Delforce promises to get more exposure for their ad, leading up to Australia day and suggests that the MLA is coming to kill him? "If their ad is anything to go by, I can probably expect they'll be coming to burn my house down now."

Meanwhile the Lambassador Mr Kekovich told Channel 7's "Sunrise this morning" that vegan groups were just trying to get a bit of free publicity. You don't say? It's an obvious tactic, and any decent parody of their own footage plus the slaughter-house scenes would have ridden the coat-tails of MLA's current PR push as well, without infringing.

Now, since the MLA has threatened Aussie Farms with legal action due to copyright infringement after they used the footage of Lee Lin Chin, and Aussie Farms has claimed it falls "squarely within the definition" fair use - I really really hope that MLA take legal action so that we can settle this once and for all. There is no square, but lets check it out in court, shall we? Is it just ones and zeroes, a copy where the original is still there, or did Aussie Farms actually infringe on Meat and Livestock Association's copyrighted work? Lets dust off a judge and find out! Usually these sorts of things end with lots of publicity and then quiet settlements, and we're none the wiser.

Note: The number of complaints lodged against the Meat and Livestock Association advert this year vary wildly in published reports, and are often cited to be in the hundreds, while "Generation lamb" got 80 complaints in 2014. We've reached out to the Advertising Standards Bureau to get the correct and current number but expect some delay in response due to weekend.

Leave a comment

about the author

Dabitch Creative Director, CEO, hell-raising sweetheart and editor of Adland. Globetrotting Swede who has lived and worked in New York, London, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm.