500000 petition for release of Iceland's banned Christmas ad

A veterinarian with the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme carries a baby orangutan at SOCP's orangutan rehabilitation

A veterinarian with the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme carries a baby orangutan at SOCP's orangutan rehabilitation

Debate has taken over the internet recently after a Christmas campaign was banned from television for being "too political".

The advert, voiced by actress Emma Thompson and originally produced by Greenpeace, features a cartoon orangutan and shows the impact palm oil production has on Orangutans.

The supermarket teamed up with Greenpeace to create an animation which tells the story of an orangutan whose home had been destroyed by palm oil producers. Bornean orangutan populations have more than halved between 1999 and 2015.

In April, Iceland became the first major United Kingdom supermarket to ban palm oil from its own products, in light of the severe environmental damage caused by increased global demand for the substance.

Since news broke of the ad's ban, people have stepped up to try and get it aired.

But, Clearcast, who decides which adverts are and aren't allowed in the United Kingdom, ruled it "contravenes the prohibition on political advertising".

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A Clearcast spokesperson told The Guardian that "Clearcast and the broadcasters have to date been unable to clear this Iceland ad because we are concerned that it doesn't comply with the political rules of the Broadcast Code of 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 Iceland supermarket group worked with Greenpeace to re-edit its animation short film and to broadcast it as a TV commercial, after it earlier this year made a decision to remove all palm oil from its own supermarket-branded foods.

There are said to be some health benefits associated with palm oil but the main factor behind the rising demand is cost. "We always knew there was a risk [the clip would not be cleared for TV] but we gave it our best shot", he said.

Social media users turned to Twitter to express their surprise that the ad was deemed "too political".

Addressed to Clearcast, the petition urges those who "believe the ban should be overturned" to sign so the ad can be on screens at Christmas.

And an online petition to have the ad appear on commercial television has attracted almost 600,000 signatures.

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