I’m very up for Iceland‘s message in its “banned” Christmas TV ad – available to view via YouTube– asking people to stop buy products containing palm oil and, in turn, hopefully helping turn the tide on the environmental destruction that results in the deaths of some 25 orangutans every day in their native Asia. But without wishing to diminish the message in any way, I do sometimes wish that these big companies would credit the people who make powerful, thought-provoking animations like the one.
“Rang-tan” is the story of a little girl and her orangutan friend forced from her forest home. Indonesian rainforests are destroyed to grow field upon field of dirty palm oil used to make the everyday products we use. The film does a great job of making the global crisis of rainforest destruction personal.
But Iceland didn’t make it, originally. It’s a version of a Greenpeace animation created by London-based agency Mother, narrated by Emma Thompson, directed by by Lip Comarella and Simon Griesser for Passion Pictures, with initial character development by Therese Larsson, Thibault Leclerq and Marceline Tanguay.
However, the good news is that the supermarket chain has been working with Greenpeace on plans to remove palm oil from its own-label products by the end of this year.
In the original film, which has provoked huge public interest since its launch in August, Dame Emma Thompson, backed by a host of other famous names, has taken aim at big brands including Unilever, Nestle and Mondelez, with a 90-second animation that highlights how orangutans are being pushed to the brink of extinction because of deforestation for palm oil.
Sadly, much to the supermarket’s disappointment, Iceland has been barred from screening their version of the ad on TV, after Clearcast said it would be in breach of the Broadcast Code of Advertising Practice, on the grounds that it does not comply with the political rules.
Campaign reports that according to a spokeswoman for Clearcast, it had been unable to clear the ad because it was “concerned that it doesn’t comply with the political rules of the BCAP Code”. She added: “The creative submitted to us is linked to another organisation who have not yet been able to demonstrate compliance in this area.”
Neil Hayes, marketing director at Iceland, said the retailer would still be on TV in the run-up to Christmas with more conventional, product-led advertising, which will launch later in the month.
Meanwhile, Iceland’s version of “Rang-tan” – which is the same as the original, with the exception of the closing messages – is be available to view on YouTube.
Hayes says the film “portrays a very serious issue in a really clear and emotionally connecting way,” praising its production values.
“Throughout 2018 we have led the retail industry to take action in areas such as rainforest destruction for palm oil and plastic pollution of our oceans,” says Richard Walker, Iceland’s managing director, as reported by Business Green. “This year, we were keen to do something different with our much anticipated Christmas advert. The culmination of our palm oil project is offering our customers the choice of an orangutan-friendly Christmas, and we wanted to reflect this in our advertising.
“Whilst our advert sadly never made it to TV screens, we are hopeful that consumers will take to social media to view the film, which raises awareness of an important global issue,” he said. “Our commitment to help protect the home of orangutans remains extremely close to our hearts. We are proud to be encouraging consumers to make more sustainable choices, even without the support of TV advertising, ahead of the Christmas shopping season.”
Despite making it a bit hard to find out who made this film, I’m glad it’s getting further exposure thanks to Iceland – and I’m sure it won’t hurt Greenpeace, either. Congratulations to all involved, especially now I know who you are!
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.