Why the Iceland Christmas advert won’t be on tv


Iceland’s Christmas campaign will not be aired on tv as it’s been deemed to potentially breach political advertising rules.

The retailer had hoped to use a short film, entitled ‘Rang-tan’ and voiced by Emma Thompson, as its main Christmas advert this year.

The 90-second animation portrays the emotive story of rainforest destruction caused by palm oil production, and the devastating impact it has on the critically-endangered orangutan.

Earlier this year, Iceland committed to removing palm oil from all of its own label food by the end of 2018.

As the retailer nears completion of the project, the advert would have seen Iceland commit more than £500,000 in advertising spend to get the animation on tv screens.

The firm said it hoped that the advert would improve shoppers’ understanding of the widespread rainforest destruction that takes place in order to produce palm oil, which appears in more than 50% of all supermarket products.


Video credit: Iceland


The advert, however, ran into trouble as it was originally created for Greenpeace.

Clearcast – the body responsible for clearing ads on behalf of the four major UK commercial broadcasters – assessed the advert against the rules of the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising.

The Iceland advert was deemed to contravene the prohibition on political advertising where the advertisement is inserted by, or on behalf of, a body whose objects are wholly or mainly of a political nature (namely, in this case, Greenpeace).

Clearcast said that its concerns do not extend to the content or message of the ad.

Richard Walker, managing director of Iceland, commented: “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.”

He continued: “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.

He added: “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.”



Locally, Chester Zoo has led a strong campaign to make people aware of the issues surrounding the production of palm oil.

They’re not calling for a ban on it, however, they are working to ensure that the palm oil contained in the products people buy is sustainable.

The zoo’s website says: “The unsustainable production of palm oil is one of the biggest threats facing the forests and wildlife of Borneo and Sumatra – and demand is increasing.”

It adds: “Chester Zoo’s mission is to prevent extinction, and for over 80 years we’ve dedicated ourselves to protecting biodiversity and fighting to save species from extinction.

“If we were to stop using palm oil, we would need to find an alternative to supply the global demand for edible vegetable oils.

“Because other oil crops – such as coconuts, olives, sunflowers and maize – are less productive per square kilometre, even more land would need to be converted to agriculture.”


Video credit: Act For Wildlife / Chester Zoo


In recent years, a number of organisations have started to produce and source palm oil more sustainably.

Chester Zoo supports the work of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which has developed sustainability standards for palm oil produced with minimal impact on wildlife, local people and the environment.

Many companies are now labelling their products as containing certified sustainable palm oil.

The Chester Zoo website continues: “Buying only products that contain certified sustainable palm oil is an important step in helping to protect animals like orangutans and others that share its rainforest habitat.”

“We can make a big difference in protecting wildlife by tackling the issue of unsustainable palm oil production.”


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