Iceland Christmas Advert Released on Social Media

As not seen on TV: Iceland’s banned Christmas advert can be found here:

Retailer Christmas adverts have  been the source of much anticipation in the weeks building up to the big day in recent years, with retailers blowing their advertising budgets to ensure their advert becomes the most talked about  of the season.

For many consumers, the first screenings of the biggest adverts now herald the start of the festive build-up, a key milestone in the Christmas calendar.

However, this year,  Iceland’s advert  will not appear on TV alongside those of other leading retailers – as its anticipated advert  hasn’t made it to our screens. Following a year  of leading the retail industry in sustainability initiatives, Iceland had  elected to do something different with its advertising spend.

Earlier this year,  Iceland committed to remove palm oil from all its own label food by the end of 2018  in response to continued deforestation in South  East Asia. As the retailer nears completion of the project, offering consumers the choice of an orangutan friendly Christmas, it had  planned for a Christmas advert  to raise awareness.

The retailer had  hoped to use a short film, Rang-tan, as its main Christmas advert. Rang-tan is an emotive animation telling the story of rainforest destruction caused by palm oil production, and  its devastating impact on the critically endangered orangutan.

It was hoped that the advert  would improve shoppers’ understanding of the widespread rainforest destruction for palm oil production, which appears in more than 50% of all supermarket products. The advert  would have  seen Iceland committing over half a million pounds of media spend to ensure that it was seen by millions of consumers – a bold move away from the usual commercial, product-led advertising in order  to highlight an important issue causing climate change and biodiversity loss. However, this may have  proven  a brave  step too far as the advert was banned by advertising regulators.

Richard Walker, Managing Director at Iceland said: “Throughout 2018 we have led the retail industry to take action in areas such as rainforest destruction for palm oil and plastic pollution of our oceans. This year  we were  keen  to do something different with our much anticipated Christmas advert.  The culmination of our palm oil project is offering our customers the choice of an orangutan friendly Christmas, and we wanted to reflect this in our advertising.

“Whilst our advert  sadly never  made it to TV screens, we are hopeful that consumers will take  to social media to view the film, which raises awareness of an important global issue. Our commitment to help protect  the home  of orangutans remains extremely close to our hearts. We are proud to be encouraging consumers to make more sustainable choices, even  without the support of TV advertising, ahead of the Christmas shopping season.”

Iceland, the  UK’s leading frozen food specialist, is offering consumers an  orangutan friendly Christmas range. The range has been carefully crafted, with recipes reworked to ensure that the removal of palm oil has no effect on quality or taste.

Iceland made the  decision  to demonstrate to the  food and  retail industries that  it is possible to reduce the demand for palm oil until the industry stops destroying the rainforests by seeking alternative ingredients. Growing demand for palm oil for use in food products, cosmetics and biodiesel is devastating tropical rainforests across South East Asia.  Expanding  palm  oil and  wood  pulp  plantations  are  the  biggest  driver  of deforestation, many species are being threatened with extinction, including the orangutan, already critically endangered.

The Advert – background and our thoughts

The above is the Iceland press release but we also feel it is important to highlight where the film itself came from, the advert was actually created earlier this year by Greenpeace. It was launched globally in August, just ahead of International Orangutan Day (on August 19), the film, voiced by Emma Thompson, was also shown across UK cinemas with thousands of screenings throughout August and September. It has been made by creative agency Mother (directed by award-winning Salon Alpin) and produced by Oscar-winning Passion Animation Studios. I do feel it seems a bit strange that throughout the press release Iceland do not mention this as the source of the advert. The advert itself is a worthy, and emotive ad but I am concerned the message is getting lost in the political fallout of the decision to ‘ban’ the ad, and also it seems strange that this is a chance for Iceland to trumpet the work Greenpeace has been doing but instead they havce remained silent about where the ad came from, this seems like it would have been a great chance for Iceland to state they are working with Greenpeace on this important issue, instead Greenpeace’s role seems to have been removed and that seems a strange decision to me, and a disappointing one.

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