Iceland Christmas Ad: cynical opportunism or genuine good-will?
December is almost upon us, and with it comes all the chatter for 2018’s round of Christmas ads. This year, Iceland has been the most talked about retailer – despite the ad never actually making it to TV or even being about Christmas!
If you’ve not managed to catch it yet, they’ve forgone the typical feel good festive film and opted for a rebadged version of the Greenpeace animation that tells the story of a ‘Rang-tan’ (AKA, an orangutan) in a little girl’s bedroom. When she asks why the Orangutan is there, she learns about how humans are destroying their habitat and endangering orangutans to harvest palm oil. The short film aims to raise awareness of the negative repercussions of using palm oil in products such as food and shampoo, and highlight’s how Iceland is removing it from all of its own brand products.
The ad was ‘banned’ from airing for being “in breach of rules banning political advertising as laid down by the 2003 Communications Act”. So, is this merely an unsuccessful attempt at a Christmas ad, or is there more to it?
The timing certainly lends itself to some sort of PR stunt. The festive season is when ads get the most attention from the media – rating them from best to worst and creating a frenzy of excitement. So, Iceland choosing to release it now, as opposed to earlier in the year, was a sure-fire way to ensure coverage.
Furthermore, Iceland aren’t exactly new to the world of TV advertising. They’re likely to have been aware of the legislation and the consequences of such a breach.
After being denied a slot on TV, they strategically turned to social media to share their ad and simultaneously inform viewers how it had been ‘banned’ from traditional TV. This created conversation – and controversy – around the subject and piqued interest in the brand’s ad. Had they shared the ad without commenting on the ‘ban’, then it’s likely it wouldn’t have received such a profound reaction. It sparked people to check out Iceland’s ad and join in the conversation, making it even more memorable.
Whether the ‘ban’ was something Iceland may have anticipated or not, it was certainly effective. The ad received 3.7million views in the first three days – an 800% increase of views compared to Iceland’s 2017 Christmas campaign. Not bad, is it?
“PR stunt” or not, seeing as Christmas is the season of goodwill and giving, we’ll allow it. Well done Iceland.