British supermarket Iceland’s Christmas advert portraying the environmental issues related to palm oil has been deemed “too political” and banned from broadcast.
The advert, using a Greenpeace animation, depicted an orangutan telling the story of the destruction of its habitat caused by the farming of palm oil.
However, the body which assesses adverts for UK advertising, Clearcast, said the Iceland ad “contravened the prohibition on political advertising" because it included "an advertisement which is inserted by, or on behalf of, a body [Greenpeace] whose objects are wholly or mainly of a political nature".
Clearcast managing director Chris Mundy said on 12 November that it was Greenpeace’s involvement in the ad, rather than the ad’s content, that was the barrier to broadcast.
Iceland managing director Richard Walker said he was “absolutely gutted” the advert had been banned.
“We wanted to share this message far and wide and underline Iceland's commitment to remove palm oil from all of our products by the end of this year."
The Iceland advert has had millions of views on social media and a petition has also been started to allow the ad to be shown on TV.
In April, Iceland became the first UK supermarket to announce that it was removing palm oil from its own-label range. The oil is commonly found it many food and cosmetic products including pastry, biscuits, cereal, chocolate, soap and detergent.
However, the supermarket’s stand has also been criticised, with Forest Trust founder Scott Poynton tweeting at the time that “if Iceland is worried about deforestation, it should drop soya, cocoa, beef and any other commodity linked to deforestation”.
Dr Jake Bicknell and Dr Matthew Struebig from the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Biology within the School of Anthropology and Conservation at the University of Kent also said in April that palm oil yielded up to five times the oil per unit of land compared with other vegetable oils such as soyabean and rapeseed.
“However, because palm oil grows in tropical areas, when forest is cleared, the impacts on climate and biodiversity are high. Certification – by which consumers pay higher prices for more sustainably sourced products – is one way to safeguard rainforests, but unfortunately less than 20% of palm oil is currently certified as sustainable,” they told Envirotec magazine.
“Environmentally conscious consumers should demand palm oil from certified sources, but avoiding it altogether runs the risk of putting pressure on other crops that are equally to blame for the world’s environmental problems.”