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This U.K. supermarket’s adorable Xmas ad was banned for being “too political”

Iceland Foods repurposed a Greenpeace animated short on the environmental impact of palm oil production. But it won’t be aired on British television.

This U.K. supermarket’s adorable Xmas ad was banned for being “too political”

How do you define “too political” when it comes to mainstream advertising? According to Clearcast, the U.K. body responsible for making sure ads meet standards set by the 2003 Communications Act, an adorably animated orangutan lamenting the effects of deforestation fits the bill.

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Iceland Foods worked with Greenpeace to repurpose a film the environmental organization originally launched in August; the spot would become Iceland Foods’ entry in Britain’s annual Christmas advertising bonanza. Narrated by Dame Emma Thompson, “Rang-Tan” tells the story of a little girl wondering why this baby orangutan has moved into her room. It outlines the effects of palm oil production on orangutan habitats, with Iceland declaring it has removed all palm oil from its products.

While banned from U.K. TV, the spot will run plenty online, with the Clearcast decision fueling a slew of earned media and additional attention. Iceland Food’s founder Malcolm Walker told The Guardian, “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.”

Now, if they really wanted to pull a John Lewis (that’s the U.K. retailer, not the American congressman and civil rights icon), we’ll be seeing Iceland-branded plush Rang-Tan toys under the tree.

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About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.

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