Commercial featuring cartoon orangutan banned for being political

Commercial featuring cartoon orangutan banned for being political
CNN image
Iceland frozen foods shop sign

In the run-up to the festive season, British retailers vie to release Christmas TV commercials that will tug heartstrings and open wallets.

But one supermarket’s short cartoon film about an orangutan forced by deforestation to flee its rainforest habitat has been deemed too political for broadcast by the body responsible for vetting commercials.

Clearcast — an organization that approves all commercials before broadcast and which is jointly owned by broadcasters including CNN’s parent company, Turner — said Friday that supermarket Iceland’s film breached the UK’s ban on political advertising in broadcast media.

The film, which is voiced by actress Emma Thompson and is called Rang-tan, was originally made by Greenpeace — and this is a problem for Clearcast.

“The creative submitted to us is linked to another organization who have not yet been able to demonstrate compliance in this area,” Clearcast wrote in a statement.

Iceland has instead published the video on YouTube and released a statement saying its aim was to “raise awareness” and “improve shoppers’ understanding of the widespread rainforest destruction for palm oil production, which appears in more than 50% of all supermarket products.”

The commercial follows Iceland’s announcement in April that it would stop using palm oil in its own-brand products by the end of 2018.

Iceland, which owns 900 stores and specializes in frozen foods, will continue to run other commercials on television, but only clips highlighting palm oil-free products, the Guardian reports.

Orangutan populations have declined sharply since the 1990s. Countries in Southeast Asia have struggled to curb deforestation and illegal logging, losing swaths of tropical forest to palm oil and paper plantations, as well as mining — factors that have led to the destruction of the critically endangered species’ habitat.