Iceland’s Banned Christmas Advert: Too political? Not according to us!

Despite being one of the most highly-anticipated adverts of the year, supermarket giant Iceland’s 2018 Christmas advert will not be gracing our television sets this year. Made in collaboration with Greenpeace and voiced by Emma Thompson, the advert named ‘Rang-tan’ takes a different advertising approach in comparison to the romantic snowy scenes and lavishly-decorated dinner tables laden with mince pies and turkey; Instead, Iceland uses its platform to highlight one of the most important global issues to date: deforestation.

The animated campaign, featuring the adorable character Rang-tan, also includes real-life video clips of habitat destruction through the process of extracting palm oil, a poignantly emotional touch which demonstrates the devastating environmental impact of this issue. And now its been deemed ‘too political’ for us to watch this festive season, a statement which asks the question: how is saving the planet a political problem?

Thousands of people have expressed their outrage at the advert’s ban, with many taking to Twitter to voice their concerns. Even a petition has been created, appealing to Theresa May to lift the ban – a petition which has already gained over 4,000 signatures in a matter of days! An advert being banned for political reasons suggests it is at risk of offending people – but is this an issue where the concern is causing offence? Or is this another example of people longing instead for their picture-perfect idea of Christmas instead of being reminded of the stark reality of a problem which is becoming worse with each day, regardless as to whether it’s Christmas or not. Orangutans are now officially a ‘critically endangered’ species, with 25 being killed a day due to deforestation within the palm oil production process (a devastating statistic highlighted by the campaign). What’s more important? Our cosy Christmases, or an entire species being potentially wiped out?

Powerful and profound, the advert still finds a huge platform thanks to social media, and generates huge discussion, despite television’s failure to give the campaign its rightful broadcasting platform. It’s refreshing to see the attempted repression of the campaign hugely contrasted with the passionate responses it has generated. With Iceland now being the first supermarket giant to remove palm oil from all its own-brand products, many responses demonstrate people pledging to limit their palm oil consumption over Christmas, and to continue doing so afterwards. Evidently Iceland has achieved its goal of raising awareness, with their campaign receiving over 30 million views on YouTube so far.

TV approved or not – I’ll definitely be venturing to Iceland for some palm oil-free mince pies this Christmas.

Megan Wall