British supermarket's Christmas ad banned for being too controversial

British supermarket's Christmas ad banned for being too controversial

It's no secret that companies fork out hundreds of thousands of dollars (sometimes millions) in the race to have the most memorable Christmas ad of the season - after all, it's when people spend the most. This is particularly the case in the UK, where high street retailer John Lewis releases an ad that's guaranteed to be a tear jerker every year. But one UK retailer has now found themselves in hot water after creating a Christmas ad that was deemed too controversial to be aired.

UK-based supermarket chain Iceland prides itself on being a frozen kingdom where customers can stock up on own brand and branded foods for a fraction of the price other retailers sell them for. And, recently, the company has taken steps to become more environmentally friendly, pledging to remove palm oil from all its own brand foods by the end of 2018.

Credit: Iceland

To shed light on this issue, which the chain decided to tackle head-on in response to the continued deforestation of South East Asia, the ad offered consumers the option of choosing their products and having an orangutan-friendly Christmas.

However, the ad, which is featured below, was scrapped for not complying to "political rules":

Iceland subsequently hit back at the British body which gives TV ads the green light, saying that there was nothing political about their ad, they were simply using it as an opportunity to raise awareness about an "important global issue".

Credit: Iceland

And given the fact that it's not just orangutans who've been put at risk, it's hard not to side with the retailer. Other affected animals include the Pygmy Elephant, Sumatran Tiger, Asian Rhinoceros, Sun Bear, and the Proboscis Monkey.

However, there's no doubt that the stand-out heartbreaking fact about palm oil is that its harvesting results in the deaths of 50 orangutans every single week when their homes are destroyed and they are subsequently burnt to death.

Credit: Iceland

As it stands, more than 50% of supermarket products contain palm oil. Iceland created the advert to increase awareness about the issue and encourage consumers to opt for its 2018 Christmas range which contains more than 100 palm oil free products.

Credit: Imgur

Had the advert been approved, it would have seen the retailer spend more than half a million dollars on its display to ensure that it was seen by millions - a bold and admirable move away from the traditional use of advertising to simply promote products.

Credit: Iceland

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."

Credit: Iceland

"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."

A spokesperson for Clearcast, the body responsible for clearing TV ads, said:

"Clearcast and the broadcasters have to date been unable to clear an ad for Iceland ad because we are concerned that it doesn't comply with the political rules of the BCAP code.

The creative submitted to us is linked to another organisation who have not yet been able to demonstrate compliance in this area."

Credit: Iceland

Now, I don't know about you, but I think that the banning of this ad is ludicrous, and it turns out that I'm not alone. Over half a million people have signed a petition campaigning for its release. With Bornean orangutan populations more than halving between 1999 and 2015, it's safe to say that Iceland's ad has the potential to do a lot of good this Chrismas.