The annual Australian Lamb ads are here and once again they do not disappoint.
On Tuesday, one of the campaign's billboards was spotted not far from Melbourne Park where the Australian Open is being played without Serbian world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
On the side of a truck, the Meat and Livestock Australia ad reads: "Everyone's welcome at our BBQ. Not Djoking."
Djokovic, the odds-on favourite to defend his Australian Open title, was out of the tournament before it began after Immigration Minister Alex Hawke revoked his visa on the grounds that he is not vaccinated against Covid-19.
Hawke argued successfully in court that Djokovic's presence in Australia would incite anti-vaccination sentiment among Australians and affect the number of people presenting for booster shots.
The ads are part of a 2022 campaign that Meat and Livestock Australia say is all about sharing.
"Building on the 'Share the Lamb' brand platform, the 6-week integrated campaign reflects upon how Australia has become isolated from the rest of the world due to strict international border closures during the pandemic," MLA says on its website.
The Djokovic ads come at a bad time for the unvaccinated tennis player as his largest sponsor said it wants to "review" the events of the past two weeks.
The 34-year-old, who made US$30 million ($41.6 million) in sponsorship deals last year, according to Forbes, now faces an uncertain future if he is unable to compete at other Grand Slams including Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open as a result of being unvaccinated against Covid-19.
Some sponsorship experts have warned brands may be forced to distance themselves from Djokovic if he becomes "the anti-vax poster boy". Others say the issue is more simple.
"Apart from questions of perception and association and what is charitably called 'polarisation', these contracts come loaded with participation clauses," Sports Illustrated executive editor Jon Wertheim wrote on Twitter.
"What's your value to Lacoste or Peugeot if you won't play Roland Garros?"
Wertheim also shared an example of a termination clause from an athlete sponsorship contract.
It reads: "If at any time, in the opinion of Sponsor, Athlete becomes the subject of disrepute, contempt, or scandal that affects Athlete's image or goodwill, then Company may, upon written notice to Athlete, immediately suspend or terminate this Agreement and Athlete's services hereunder, in addition to any other rights and remedies that Sponsor may have hereunder or at law or in equity."
Lacoste, the French clothing giant whose contract with Djokovic is reported to be valued at US$9m ($13.3m), broke its silence on Monday.
"As soon as possible, we will be in touch with Novak Djokovic to review the events that have accompanied his presence in Australia," Lacoste said.
Djokovic has some support from high-profile tennis personalities including Australian star Nick Kyrgios and commentator John McEnroe.
Appearing on ESPN ahead of the Melbourne-based grand slam tournament, McEnroe took aim at the Australian Government for how it handled the "sad" situation.
"[It's an] absolute joke what's gone on the last 12 days," he said. "It's sad the way it ended. I watched it play out live.
"It's total BS. If he decides not to have a vaccine and the Australian authorities say, 'You cannot go down there unless you're vaccinated', end of story, it's black or white.
"He decides whether or not he wants to do it. He's got very strong beliefs he's entitled to those beliefs."