In Brief

Iceland Christmas TV ad banned for being ‘too political’

Controversial commercial depicts orangutan mourning loss of his rainforest home

iceland.jpg

An Iceland Christmas advert has been banned from television after its depiction of deforestation was ruled too political.

The cartoon advert, originally made by environmental organisation Greenpeace, begins with a small girl playing with a little orangutan in her room. When she asks why the ape is in her room, the cartoon turns black and white and depicts the orangutan running away as machinery destroys its forest home. 

Actress Emma Thompson provides the narration, as the orangutan tells the child: “There’s a human in my forest and I don’t know what to do. He took away my mother and I’m scared he’ll take me too.”

Iceland was the first major UK supermarket to pledge the removal of palm oil - which has been linked to deforestation - from its name brand items. The supermarket said it hoped the campaign would “improve shoppers’ understanding of the widespread rainforest destruction for palm oil production”. 

“We got permission to use [the ad] and take off the Greenpeace logo and use it as the Iceland Christmas ad,” Iceland’s founder, Malcolm Walker, told The Guardian. “It would have blown the John Lewis ad out of the window. It was so emotional.”

However, advertising body Clearcast said re-purposing a video created for Greenpeace to promote a supermarket ran afoul of broadcast regulations banning promotional campaigns “directed towards a political end”.

“We are concerned it doesn’t comply with the political rules of the BCAP code [broadcast code for advertising practice],” a spokesman told The Guardian.

The ban does not apply to social media, where the controversial clip has circulated around YouTube and Twitter.

“We’re going to focus now on releasing the film on social media and ensuring as many people as possible see it,” said Iceland’s communications chief, Caspar Nelson. “We think the subject is important”.

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