Iceland urges customers to make its banned Christmas TV ad go viral

Iceland's Christmas ad, which is focused on the impact of palm oil on the environment, has been banned from TV for breaching political ad rules.

The spot from the budget supermarket was spiked by ad vetting body Clearcast for being "directed towards a political end" before it even hit TV screens – but Iceland now wants to make it go viral online.

The retailer inked a deal with Greenpeace to repurpose an animated short-film which would run under its own name to run on-screen in the lead up to the festive trading period.

The minute-and-a-half-long short looks to highlight the destruction of the rainforest by palm oil growers by telling the story of a fictional character called Rang-tan, a critically endangered orangutan whose home is destroyed.

The messaging is in line with Iceland's commitment to remove palm oil from its own-label food by the end of 2018.

Clearcast said it had been unable to clear the ad for on-air because it was "concerned" that it doesn’t comply with the political rules of the UK code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP).

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

Iceland said it had spent around £500,000 on the campaign, booking "primetime" TV slots through its media agency 7stars.

Unable to show the full animation, the brand will instead show 10-second clips that promote its palm oil-free products.

Richard Walker, managing director for Iceland Food group said: “We wanted [the Greenpeace film] to be our signature campaign. We have said repeatedly we are not anti-palm oil, we are anti-deforestation.

“We think this is a huge story that needs to be told. We always knew there was a risk but we gave it our best shot.”

More than 500,000 people have signed a petition to get the ad's ban overturned.

Read Marc Lewis’ review of the Iceland Christmas ad.

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