Iceland palm oil advert: petition launched for ban to be overturned

People have flocked to sign a petition calling for British regulators to overturn a ban on a television advert about the impact of palm oil production.

Supermarket chain Iceland wanted to run a Greenpeace-made animation about its effects on rainforests and endangered orangutans.

But it was banned by Clearcast, the British organisation responsible for the clearance of television adverts, because it was supporting a political issue.

Now hundreds of thousands of sympathisers have called for the decision to be reversed and the advert shown.

Iceland wants to remove palm oil from its products by the end of 2018 and the video — voiced by actress Emma Thompson — was part of efforts to encourage consumers to boycott such goods over the festive period.

It had been shared nearly 70,000 times from the frozen food retailer’s official Twitter account as of noon CET on Saturday.

Greenpeace claims palm oil suppliers to the world’s largest brands — including Unilever, Nestlé, Colgate-Palmolive and Mondelez — have destroyed an area of rainforest almost twice the size of Singapore in less than three years.

It says this destruction is a leading driver of habitat loss for Bornean orangutans, whose population has been halved in just 16 years.

British retailers’ Christmas television advertising campaigns have gained widespread interest in recent years. In particular, the hotly-anticipated choice of upmarket department store John Lewis.

“This year, we were keen to do something different with our much anticipated Christmas advert,” said Richard Walker, an Iceland managing director. “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.”