10 Years of Australia Day Marketing Lamb-paigns: Where Are We Now?

Australia Day Lamb

“At the end of the day, Australia Day is about a bunch of people coming together around a barbeque, over some lamb, taking a deep breath, and treating people the way you’d like to be treated.”

– Sam Kekovich

If Australia’s most renowned Lambassador is right, Australia Day itself has almost nothing to do with Australia. What’s more, the Australia Day ad campaigns we’re all used to seeing don’t have much to do with Australia either.

So for marketers wanting to leverage our national holiday, we’re left facing a pretty big conundrum. How can you market a product against something so decidedly vague?

What even is Australia Day?

Let’s lay aside all the potential controversies and complications for a second and figure out what Australia Day actually is. For better or worse, Australia Day has come to represent pretty much exactly what Kekovich describes. It’s an occasion where people generally barbeque some meat, play a bit of cricket and have Triple J’s Hottest 100 blaring in the background.

It’s kind of like the result of an entire country’s Christmas holiday withdrawal, to the point where it’s almost Christmas in January – we’re a few weeks into the new year, and already feeling it. So people do the same stuff they did on Christmas Day, only the weather’s even warmer still.

Meat & Livestock Australia were arguably the first brand to really twist Oz Day in their favour. Here’s how they did it.

Lamb: 2007-style

Thanks to Meat & Livestock Australia’s insanely effective Lamb campaign (lamb-paign?), lamb has become one of those things that people now freely associate with Australia Day.

But why lamb, you may ask? Why not any of the other kinds of meat in their repertoire, like kangaroo, which would make a hell of a lot more sense? Well, here’s the big twist.

The reason Meat & Livestock Australia chose to leverage lamb over all their other products for Australia Day is because lamb is commonly regarded as the multicultural meal. Here’s proof.

The secret

Herein lies the actual secret on how to effectively market your product around Australia Day. Forget about some singular idea of “Australia” – focus on how much of a multicultural wonderland our country supposedly resembles. This is the realest current trend in Australia Day marketing: gradually deviating away from the Aussie stereotype.

In some ways, this approach is a possible instinctual reaction to the growing controversy around the significance of Australia Day’s date. So as our attitudes towards the date have started to change, the way high-profile brands advertise around it has followed suit.

Lamb: 2017-style

For an ad that’s all about celebrating Australia Day, this employs some of the most explicit criticism of Australia Day that you’ll find. Several moments, including the lines “since forever” and “aren’t we all boat people?” directly hit at some of Australia’s most sensitive societal issues. It’s an example of how social commentary can often assume an important role in advertising, and how we can positively influence the zeitgeist.

Where are we now?

Advertisers have frequently tiptoed around what Australia Day actually is because of its inherent complications. A lot of clever campaigns came out of this approach, but since they’ve started to embrace and even critique the system, we’ve arguably seen an improvement.

By creating a distance between their products and the problematic core of Australia Day’s date, and by emphasising how their products contribute to a diverse contemporary country, many brands have contributed to a revitalised version of what our national day might mean into the future.

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David is Studio Culture’s Head of Digital Marketing.