News from With

What Just Happened!? Iceland’s banned Christmas ad

‘Tis the season to be jolly. ‘Tis the season of Christmas ads. ‘Tis the season for speaking out about palm oil… This year is going to go down as the year Iceland landed its best Christmas advertising campaign ever, without actually running an ad (technically).

Let’s rewind on what just happened. The discount supermarket chain Iceland came up with its Christmas ad, but did not receive clearance from the UK advertising authority Clearcast. According to the regulator, the ad was not permitted on the grounds that it was produced by Greenpeace – a political organisation – and was therefore a political ad. The ad raises awareness of how palm oil is destroying Orang-utans’ natural habitat, and how Iceland is removing the oil from all its products. A noble cause to defend.

Whilst all the other big retailers were launching (and paying) for their Christmas ads, Iceland’s response was that their ad had been “banned”, and promoted the content themselves through social media. @MaggieMski was outraged. James Corden listened up. And everyone else who was paying any attention to this year’s Christmas ads.

The speed of the ensuing twitterstorm blurred the finer details around Clearcast’s decision. How can defending the rainforest be something to ban? Cue excessive question marks and exclamation marks.

And all of a sudden Sainsbury’s school production, John Lewis and Elton John (and Lidl’s parody of it) weren’t quite as prominent as each had hoped. Iceland ditched the feel good factor, and went for a bold and meaningful Christmas message around environmentalism.

Brands often find themselves on the receiving end of a twitterstorm. But this year, Iceland managed to get a huge sympathy vote. And a cracking Christmas ad. And all without running the campaign. Not bad as far as early Christmas presents go…

Get the latest news

Sign up to our newsletter to receive our latest stories directly to your inbox.

Sign up