Iceland’s annual Christmas advert has been banned from television for being ‘too political’. Narrated by Emma Thompson, the short film shows a baby orangutan taking up residence in a little girl’s bedroom after his home was destroyed: ‘There are humans in my forest and I don’t know what to do. They’re burning it for palm oil, so I thought I’d stay with you.’ The advert was made in partnership with Greenpeace, a charity which campaigns for the protection of the environment.
Clearcast, a company responsible for reviewing advertisements, has censored the advert for breaking the UK’s 2008 Communications Act, claiming that the ‘advertisement contravenes the prohibition on political advertising’, as the advert was ‘inserted by or on behalf of a body whose objects are wholly or mainly of a political nature.’
However, if the intention was to stop this advert from being seen it seems to be having the opposite effect, with the film taking over social media, particularly Twitter. The outraged public have taken to the platform to share their thoughts on the matter, some declaring that Iceland’s advert is the best Christmas advert they’ve seen in a long time and others mentioning that an advert with a powerful message such as this shouldn’t be censored.
Palm oil is used in half the products in UK supermarkets, such as soap, shampoo, chocolate and make-up. Due to the demand for the oil, tropical rainforests are being torn down in Indonesia and Malaysia to make room for palm plantations. According to Greenpeace ‘an area the size of a football pitch is torn down in Indonesia’s rainforest every 25 seconds, with palm oil driving the destruction.’ Greenpeace has been targeting brands such as Nestle and Mars, who have promised to ‘clean up the palm oil in their products by 2020’. Greenpeace also stresses that rainforests don’t have to be destroyed to grow palm oil. As a result of deforestation the orangutan is now classified as endangered, and 25 are lost every day.
Iceland has made a pledge to remove palm oil from its products by the end of 2018 in order to stop deforestation. In a recent tweet, Iceland released this statement: ‘Thank you for the overwhelming support for Rang-tan! We’re proud to be sharing the story of rainforest destruction, and its devastating impact on the critically endangered orangutan. “The future is not yet written…” Do you know what to do?’