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Iceland's Christmas TV ad banned for being too political

The Guardian logo The Guardian 5 days ago Sarah Butler and Mark Sweney

© Getty Iceland’s Christmas campaign has been banned from TV because it has been deemed to breach political advertising rules.

As part of its festive campaign the discount supermarket struck a deal with Greenpeace to rebadge an animated short film featuring an orangutan and the destruction of its rainforest habitat at the hands of palm oil growers.

Earlier this year, Iceland became the first major UK supermarket to pledge to remove palm oil from all its own-brand foods. Habitat loss in countries such as Malaysia – a major global producer of palm oil – has contributed to the orangutan now being classified as critically endangered.

© Iceland

Clearcast, the body responsible for vetting ads before they are broadcast to the public, said it was in breach of rules banning political advertising laid down by the 2003 Communications Act.

“This was a film that Greenpeace made with a voice over by Emma Thompson,” said Iceland’s founder, Malcolm Walker. “We got permission to use it and take off the Greenpeace logo and use it as the Iceland Christmas ad. It would have blown the John Lewis ad out of the window. It was so emotional.”

One of the stipulations enshrined in the broadcast code for advertising practice (BCAP), is that an ad is prohibited if it is “directed towards a political end”.

“Clearcast and the broadcasters have to date been unable to clear this Iceland ad because we concerned that it doesn’t comply with the political rules of the BCAP code,” said a spokeswoman for Clearcast. “The creative submitted to us is linked to another organisation who have not yet been able to demonstrate compliance in this area.”

Iceland will still be placing TV ads, but only 10-second clips that will highlight palm oil-free products.

“We wanted [the Greenpeace film] to be our signature campaign,” said Richard Walker, Malcolm’s son, who has led Iceland’s switch to environmental campaigning. “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 [the clip would not be cleared for TV] but we gave it our best shot.”

NOW SEE: Are these the most offensive ads ever? (Business Insider)

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