Krishnas victors in row over meat ad

A red meat advertisement which left dozens of Hare Krishnas insulted will continue to run on TV this year in a modified state.

The original advertisement featuring a group of dancing, chanting butchers praising red meat received 80 complaints and had to be modified following a ruling from the Advertising Standards Complaints Board last March.

The Beef and Lamb Marketing Bureau appealed against that decision on the grounds that too much weight had been given to the number of complaints, without consideration of their individual merits.

Yesterday, that appeal was rejected by the Advertising Standards Complaints Appeal Board, which found the original advertisement was "extremely derogatory and insulting to Hare Krishnas".

Beef and Lamb Marketing Bureau general manager Rod Slater said the original advertisement, which was created for the 2003 phase of the red meat campaign, was modified slightly and has been playing ever since. However, Mr Slater said the marketing bureau had wanted to challenge the board's decision as a matter of principal.

In its case to the appeal board the bureau argued that the Advertising Standards Act allowed for "humorous and satirical treatment of groups within the community".

But the appeal board upheld the original decision, saying Hare Krishnas had vegetarian dietary habits and considered the cow to be a sacred animal and that the advertisement was extremely derogatory and insulting.

A spokesman for Hare Krishnas in New Zealand, Madri Dasi, said the appeal board's decision came as no surprise and members of the movement were pleased with it.

"We were expecting this decision because it was just so obvious we were being ridiculed."

Mr Slater said the rejected appeal had not upset the bureau as the modified advertisement would continue to run alongside a new 2004 advertisement which focuses on members of a rock band.