A UK supermarket has claimed its Christmas TV advert was pulled for being too political, after highlighting the plight of orangutans in the production of palm oil.
In a festive campaign with Greenpeace, Iceland created an animated advert starring a girl and an orangutan that discussed how the animal’s habitat was destroyed by deforestation in the pursuit of palm oil.
“There’s a human in my forest and I don’t know what to do,” the orangutan says in the video, which now has more than 100,000 hits on YouTube. “He destroyed all of our trees for your food and your shampoo.”
The advert comes after Iceland said it would remove palm oil from all of its own-brand foods, the first UK supermarket (a grocery store chain) to do so. The critically endangered status of orangutans has been caused in part by the production of palm oil in productions such as Malaysia, noted The Guardian.
But Iceland’s advert was said to be in breach of the 2003 Communications advert, according to the vetting organization Clearcast, which clears ads on behalf of the four major UK commercial broadcasters. It noted adverts cannot be “directed towards a political end” as part of the broadcast code for advertising practice (BCAP).
“You won’t see our Christmas advert on TV this year, because it was banned,” Iceland wrote on Twitter. “But we want to share Rang-tan’s story with you… Will you help us share the story?”
In a brief statement, Clearcast said it assessed “all ads against the rules of the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising.” However, it noted it was “not a regulator and we do not ban ads,” adding the video was a Greenpeace film that had appeared on Greenpeace's website for months.
Iceland was clearly not too happy with the decision though. Iceland Foods founder Malcolm Walker said they “got permission to use it and take off the Greenpeace logo,” reported The Guardian. “It would have blown the John Lewis ad out of the window. It was so emotional.”
(Note for you Americans, the John Lewis advert is an annual tradition in the UK that causes all the feels.)
Some on Twitter were quick to point out that the advert likely received many more views than it would have done had it not been stopped from appearing on TV.
At any rate, the advert can still be seen on YouTube, although you won’t be seeing it on your TV any time soon. But in so doing, the issue of deforestation and the plight of orangutans has probably been promoted even more. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.