Q&A – lamb on Australia Day

22 January 2016

Meat and Livestock Australia recently launched its annual Australia Day Lamb campaign.

The 2016 campaign, Operation Boomerang, sets out to bring Aussies home from around the world on Australia Day to eat lamb and ensure they never “lamb alone”.

The advertisement has been viewed more than 4.1 million times across TV, YouTube, Facebook and other media channels, it has attracted international attention and sparked plenty of debate.

As the campaign enters its third week, Friday Feedback talks to MLA’s Group Marketing Manager, Andrew Howie, about the advertisement and why it’s such a valuable investment for Australian sheep producers.

You can watch the full length ad here.


Q: What is MLA trying to achieve in its Australia Day Lamb campaigns?

A: The aim of the annual campaign is to drive demand and sales for quality Australian lamb, to promote lamb as a national favourite dish and bring Australians together for Australia Day. This is  part of our remit at MLA to invest producer levies in marketing activities. Part of the challenge each year is to come up with a new approach to the campaign to keep consumers engaged and ensure lamb remains top of mind for them. The success of the campaign is measured through lamb sales in the weeks leading up to Australia Day.

Levies from sheep producers are invested in this campaign. For each lamb sold, less than 1% of the total sale price is invested in marketing activities at home and overseas, of which the Australia Day campaign is an important component.

The domestic market remains the largest market for our lamb, accounting for 41% of all volume (domestic market accounts for 27% of all beef volume).  However, with lamb having a relatively low purchase frequency, it’s not bought as often as chicken, pork or beef,  these ‘big’ campaigns are important to secure ongoing support for lamb from retailers, foodservice and consumers.

Q: The campaign is now in its twelfth year. How is this year’s campaign performing so far?

A: To date the campaign has been hugely successful, with over 4.4 million views and over 1000 pieces of media coverage. Operation Boomerang is continuing to trend on social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. And this year, with so many Australians on social media, we have used those channels to push the ad out to as many people as possible.

The feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive, including support from many consumers, sheep producers and the red meat industry.

Our Australia Day advertisements have a tradition of being irreverent, light hearted and entertaining. People will recognise the advertisement is satirical, a recurring theme for the lamb campaign since its inception 12 years ago.

And while it looks like a very expensive advertisement, the entire Operation Boomerang campaign was shot in Sydney. Using some advertising and computer tricks, we’ve managed to keep the cost  down but ultimately, it’s not the cost of a campaign but rather the sales return on the marketing investment.

Q: Does the campaign help increase lamb sales?

Very much so - last year’s campaign saw an increase in lamb sales of 35% in the week before Australia Day. That was only surpassed by the 2013 Lambnesia campaign, when Australia Day fell on a Saturday, and which registered a high of 48% sales uplift compared to average weekly sales. We have a challenge this year to keep the record sales trend due to Australia Day being on a Tuesday.

Q: This year’s campaign has received a number of complaints and a review by the Advertising Standards Bureau. How do you respond?

MLA welcomes the decision by the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) that says the advertisement has not breached the Australian Association of National Advertisers Code of Ethics. 

As a responsible advertiser and marketer, MLA operates in compliance with the provisions of the AANA Code – and this year’s Australia Day lamb campaign is no different.

The role of the campaign is to promote and build demand for Australian lamb, which is some of the best quality lamb in the world. Consumers are of course free to make up their own minds in relation to lifestyle choices, including what they eat. We appreciate that not all Australians eat meat.

MLA is a not-for-profit organisation responsible for delivering marketing and research & development programs for Australia's red meat industry. We of course encourage Australians to enjoy some quality Australian lamb this Australia Day!

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