Controversy over Iceland’s Christmas Advert

The Christmas advert was banned from UK TV, but why?

This year, the Christmas advert that dominated the headlines - the Iceland Christmas advert - didn’t even appear on our screens. The Christmas advert tells the story of a little girl who finds an orangutan in her bedroom, who recounts how his own home is being destroyed for palm oil. The advert ends with a message appearing on the screen informing the viewer that Iceland will be removing palm oil from all their label products until it no longer results in rainforest deforestation.

However, as mentioned previously, this advert was banned by Clearcast (the body responsible for approving TV ads before they are shown to the public) in breach of the rules banning political advertising. The organisation allegedly received hundreds of calls and thousands of emails, resulting in them shutting its switchboard and removing themselves from Facebook permanently due to the level of abuse they suffered.

There is an argument for it being banned, as the video was originally made by Greenpeace, but was rebadged by Iceland. As the group had been using it extensively previously, the ad was banned on the ground that it had associations with a political group. Some people have argued that Iceland was aware that their ad would be prohibited, but ran it anyway for the publicity from the backlash. On the other hand, over 600,000 people have signed a petition for Clearcast’s decision to be overturned, with their argument being clear: the fact that human activity such as deforestation is harming our environment and causing global warming isn’t an argument but a reality.

One could argue that Iceland isn’t pushing a political debate but simply showing the public the effects of buying palm oil. Therefore, the public will be inclined towards Iceland’s products which are palm oil free, so the advert is arguably doing what all others do - promoting the brand.

Natalia V