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Iceland’s Christmas advert banned from broadcast for being too political

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It’s a bad day for one of the UK’s leading frozen-food specialists, as Kerry Katona’s favourite supermarket has found itself in trouble with a British advertising body. Clearcast, who is responsible for assessing the suitability of adverts before they get beamed into living rooms across the country, have deemed Iceland’s seasonal spot unfit for broadcast.

For its Christmas advert Iceland decided to use an anti-palm oil campaign that Salon Alpin had worked on for Greenpeace, released a few months back. Said campaign used an animated orangutan and the voice of noted thespian Emma Thompson to examine the plight of the modern rainforest in an age of increasing reliance on palm oil.

The regulator has claimed that Iceland’s usage of the animation is in breach of the 2003 Communications Act, which explicitly excludes adverts that are “directed towards a political end,” from being broadcast.

A spokesperson from Clearcast told The Guardian that, “Clearcast and the broadcasters have to date been unable to clear this Iceland ad because we’re concerned that it doesn’t comply with the political rules of the BCAP (the Broadcast Code for Advertising Practice) code. The creative submitted to us is linked to another organisation who have not yet been able to demonstrate compliance in this area.”

The newspaper also reports that “Iceland will still be placing TV ads, but only 10-second clips that will highlight palm oil-free products.”

It is a decision that will come as a kick in the teeth for a brand who has made a real effort in recent years to up their environmental friendliness. Richard Walker, son of Malcolm, the supermarket’s founder, tells The Guardian that, “We think this is a huge story that needs to be told. We always knew there was a risk the clip would not be cleared for TV but we gave it our best shot,” stating that they are not anti-palm oil, but “anti-deforestation.”