Red meat ad upsets viewers on both sides of Tasman

New Zealand Press Association, Feb. 22, 2003
http://www.stuff.co.nz/
22 February 2003

Vegetarians and meat-eaters on both sides of the Tasman have complained about a television advertisement promoting red meat, that shows a group of butchers dancing in the streets.

The ad, which features the butchers dancing while clanging knives and mallets and handing out meat recipe cards to passers-by, was first run in Australia last year and has just begun airing here.

New Zealand Hare Krishna devotees say the campaign is a mockery of their dancing and chanting. Adding injury to insult was the connection with butchery – Krishna devotees are vegetarian.

“Chanting of Hare Krishna traditionally is taken to the public in the street, and it is a serious activity not to be ridiculed,” Krishna follower Java Shila said.

“The human being is supposed to display the human quality of compassion and mercy and consideration of other creatures, so the unnecessary killing of animals is against our basic beliefs.”

The ad drew similar criticism in Australia from Hare Krishnas, Hindus, vegetarians and meat-eaters, who claimed it alienated sections of the community.

Jivananda Das, the vice president of Sydney’s Hare Krishna Temple, said while his group had not complained about the ad, many devotees had been offended.

“We are completely opposed to killing so it is not very appropriate that they would mock us in the street to promote their own industry,” he said.

But the ad had served a dual purpose in that it gave the faith some free publicity, he said.

“Our business is to engage people in spiritual life in some way or another and even though these butchers are taking the mickey out of us a bit they are indirectly chanting within their heads,” he said.

“But obviously it is offensive to the Supreme Lord Krishna.”

A spokeswoman for Meat and Livestock Australia, which ran the ad across the Tasman, said it was not made with the intention of upsetting Hare Krishnas, but the theme was chosen because people were familiar with it.

Complaints in Australia were thrown out last March by the Advertising Standards Board, which found “most people would regard the advertisement as humorous”.

A New Zealand Beef and Lamb Marketing Bureau spokesman said the organisation did not consider the ads to be offensive, and the campaign would continue.

Advertising Standards Complaints Board executive director Glen Wiggs said several complaints about the ad from a variety of people had been received.

The complaints would be considered either at the board’s March or April meetings.

“The ad will be judged on whether it causes serious or widespread offence,” he said.

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