It’s that time of year again — when the Christmas adverts come rolling out, all competing to try to knock the much-anticipated John Lewis ad off the top spot.
Supermarket chain Iceland had a plan for an “emotional” ad for the festive period that it claimed would have “blown the John Lewis ad out the window.”
The major campaign featured an animated short film, originally created by Greenpeace — and voiced by actress Emma Thompson — to boost global efforts against the deforestation caused by the production of palm oil products.
The 90-second short film tells the story of a baby orangutan that moves into a little girl’s room because its own habitat has been destroyed.
Iceland, as the first major UK supermarket to remove palm oil from all of its own-brand products, repurposed the short film — with Greenpeace’s permission — for its campaign.
Palm oil plantations are among the biggest driver of deforestation, threatening the orangutan with extinction 🐒— Iceland Foods ❄️ (@IcelandFoods) November 9, 2018
Take a stance and enjoy a Rang-tan friendly Christmas this year.#NoPalmOilChristmashttps://t.co/P8H61t6lWu
But the advert has hit a stumbling block.
Clearcast, which clears adverts for broadcast on the UK’s main commercial channels, ruled that the advert was in breach of the 2003 Communications Act — because it’s “directed towards a political end.”
“The creative submitted to us is linked to another organisation who have not yet been able to demonstrate compliance in this area [the political rules of the broadcast code for advertising practice],” said a Clearcast spokesperson.
Iceland will instead be placing 10-second TV ads, highlighting palm oil-free products, according to reports.
Richard Walker, who leads on Iceland’s environmental campaigning, said in response: “We wanted the [Greenpeace film] to be our signature campaign. We have said repeatedly we are not anti-palm oil, we are anti-deforestation.”
“We think this is a huge story that needs to be told,” he added. “We always knew there was a risk [the clip would not be cleared for TV] but we gave it our best shot.”
And some big names are clubbing together on social media to help share the message of the short film — with the viral ad now having been seen over 3 million times.
TV personality Stephen Fry, comedian Bill Bailey, TV host James Corden, have all shared the video with their followers on Twitter. While a tweet from Iceland Foods thanking the public for “overwhelming support” has been retweeted and liked tens of thousands of times.
I am adding my voice to many who want this to be seen far and wide. https://t.co/K1npNp5K6F— Bill Bailey (@BillBailey) November 12, 2018
Me too, Bill ... ! https://t.co/OYAlVb1Gex— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) November 12, 2018
This commercial was banned from TV for being too political. I think everyone should see it x pic.twitter.com/ns2XnGSnv6— James Corden (@JKCorden) November 11, 2018
“We’re proud to be sharing the story of rainforest destruction, and its devastating impact on the critically endangered orangutan,” it tweeted.
Meanwhile, a petition seeking to overturn the ban on the advert has been signed well over 600,000 times since it was launched on Friday.
Thank you for the overwhelming support for Rang-tan!— Iceland Foods ❄️ (@IcelandFoods) November 10, 2018
We’re proud to be sharing the story of rainforest destruction, and its devastating impact on the critically endangered orangutan.
“The future is not yet written…” Do you know what to do?https://t.co/P8H61t6lWu
We're OVERWHELMED by the amount of people who are supporting our #NoPalmOilChristmas! 🐒❤️— Iceland Foods ❄️ (@IcelandFoods) November 12, 2018
If you're cutting out palm oil ✋ this Christmas, grab a FREE pack of our No Palm Oil Luxury Mince Pies with a copy of The Sun 🤗https://t.co/DM6alVWPgwpic.twitter.com/nNQ3camVV3
“Palm oil is a product that can be found in everything from shampoos and detergents to sandwiches and biscuits,” wrote petition creator Mark Topps. “It’s one of the most environmentally damaging industries, and each day 25 orangutans are killed. Its production wipes out rainforests and wildlife, driving animals like the orangutan to extinction.”
“As a father-of-three who thinks this ad would help educate people about how their products are killing orangutans and their homes, I feel banning this advert is an injustice,” he added.