From: Franco Zeffirelli’s Film Romeo and Juliet 1968
By Marcus Honesta.
Where does the year go? But thanks to the MLA (Meat and Livestock Australia) we are reminded that yet another year has rolled by as we are treated to their self-indulgent rodomontade that endeavors to prod us to buy lamb for Australia Day. Never a marketer to shy away from controversy, this years offering is no exception with “Lamb Side Story” and with this, they have excelled themselves.
Apparently drawing inspiration from the 1957 American musical tragedy “West Side Story”, which in turn was inspired by William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, they, through their Advertising agency “The Monkeys” created the ‘Lamb Side Story”. Or more aptly “Lambaside”
Unfortunately I fear, that just like Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story the eventual result will not end well.
THE ORIGINAL STORY
In the summer of 1957 in the West Side’s Lincoln Square neighborhood of Manhattan, there is tension between a white American gang, the Jets, led by Riff Lorton, and a Puerto Rican gang of immigrants, the Sharks, led by Bernardo Nunez. After a brawl erupts, Lieutenant Schrank and Officer Krupke arrive and break it up. The Jets decide to challenge the Sharks to a rumble at an upcoming dance for neighborhood control.
Just as Romeo and Juliet’s love struck protagonists came to a very sticky end, so to do Tony and Maria the leading players in the West Side Story.
This film’s greatest problem is that it just tries too hard to be relevant.
IN THE BEGINNING
At the Agency you can just imagine how the conversation in the creative department started. The Account Director to the writer: “This is a tricky one, we’ve go to do something memorable, something that’ll be noticed. Better then last year, a real show stopper”. The Writer “Hey dude, I was just at the New York Festivals International Advertising Awards and the coolest ticket in town was this play on Broadway. Man it rocked. I reckon we could use it in the ad”.
The only tricky bit; would the client buy the concept?
Given their historical predilections, it was really a laid down misere; with Auzzie Lamb (Meat and Livestock Australian Corporation) it would be a no brainer.
According to sources, the agency supposedly took cues from last year’s box office movie hit La La Land.
Unfortunately when you have to explain the genius of the idea to the viewer up front, the show is pretty well over before it begins.
I say this because the film starts with a suburban mum screaming at her children “Quick kids, go inside! It’s the extreme left and right wing commentators represented as Broadway musical-style street gangs, a satirical commentary on our current divided political climate!”
The ad is hardly neutral, and viewers have no doubt which side its writers are on: Team Red is concerned about the planet, Team Blue is presented as homophobes obsessed with the War on most leftist hobby horses.
One has to wonder how wise it is to apparently condescend to conservatives; on a simple per capita basis, those on the right are far more likely to be lamb eaters rather than the leftie progressive set with their kale smoothies, and café latte soy-milk de-cafés.
Money would appear to be of no object. Relevance and good taste it appears, matter little.
The ad pitches the left and right wing factions against each other as it tackles politically contentious issues such as global warming, gay marriage, gender diversity, LGBTQI issues, religion, equal rights and so on, recognising that there are diverse opinions, and that’s OK. Anything but eating the product that is Lamb.
As the two sides slug it out, “Stop with your content political correctness. Now we can’t even celebrate Christmas”.
“Global warming is a lie. It’s BS we won’t buy.”
The protagonist in the ad interrupts the sing off to say: “Whether you are left or right, there’s no right or wrong, there’s no reason we can’t all get along. And remember we live in this great country; with peaches and budgies and lamb barbies.” (Banjo must be rolling)
MLA (Meat and Livestock Australian Corporation), CMO Lisa Sharp in a statement to the press said: “Under the banner of You Never Lamb Alone we’ve delivered campaigns that celebrate unity and inclusivity, whilst pushing the creative boundaries and this summer is no different.
“Our latest campaign takes a satirical look at the diversity of modern Australia and celebrates our nation’s ability to put aside our differences, no matter our cultural backgrounds or political leanings, and join together over a delicious lamb BBQ.”
No doubt Plaza Films enjoyed it; after all, it is well made. But that being said, will it sell more Lamb. Or will it do more to add fuel to the divide that already exists in our fractured community.
The Monkeys co-founder and chief creative officer, Scott Nowell, justified this malarkey buy saying: “Lamb Side Story’ proves that both extremes of global political views can be fun – there’s nothing like lamb and dancing to bring people with various levels of outrage together.”
I’m not sure he right.
In a perverse, reverse twist of the usual PC rant, “Lamb Side Story” works to the other side of the street. I only hope that the insufferable group of left wing pseudo academics who seek to inflict their own personal predigest, myopic views and political claptrap upon us, take a big stick to this self indulgent detritus.
What do you think? Let us know, comment below.