Hello Rang-tan
November 9, 2018 2:43 AM   Subscribe

British supermarket Iceland's Christmas ad [YT link], originally created by Greenpeace, has been banned for being too political.

The body responsible, Clearcast, has stated that

Clearcast and the broadcasters have to date been unable to clear an ad for Iceland because we are concerned that it doesn’t comply with the political rules of the BCAP code. The creative submitted to us is linked to another organisation who have not yet been able to demonstrate compliance in this area.
posted by threetwentytwo (59 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
Nice! Gotta love Britain and their banning stuff, I might not have found out about it otherwise.
posted by rhizome at 2:46 AM on November 9 [7 favorites]


The creative submitted to us is linked to another organisation who have not yet been able to demonstrate compliance in this area.

Can anyone translate that into English for me?
posted by thelonius at 2:58 AM on November 9 [4 favorites]


Just came to the blue to do a post on this. From Business Green:

According to the BCAP, commercial adverts prohibit "political advertising", including campaigning for the purposes of influencing legislation or executive action by local or national (including foreign) governments.

In a statement Clearcast suggested the advert does not clear this hurdle. "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 BCAP code," it said. "The creative submitted to us is linked to another organisation who have not yet been able to demonstrate compliance in this area."

But Iceland said the advert - which would have been backed by more than £500,000 of media spend - would have raised awareness among Christmas shoppers of the impact palm oil production is having on the world's rainforests.


From LBC:

But the advertising watchdog has deemed that the film breaks rules banning political advertising laid down by the 2003 Communications Act.

Not the first time that the 2003 Communications Act as been used as a reason, or excuse, for arguably strange actions. It's a rambling and wide range act; read it recently for work-related reasons and, although 'only' fifteen years old is very much 'of its time'.
posted by Wordshore at 2:59 AM on November 9 [1 favorite]


Apparently capitalism is post-political now? It's a nice trick that the only speech allowed on the airways is happy-buy-things speech. That's not political at all. [an unending sigh at this timeline]
posted by kokaku at 3:00 AM on November 9 [42 favorites]


Also, the 'ad' itself is great and worth taking a minute to watch.
posted by kokaku at 3:01 AM on November 9 [9 favorites]


The creative submitted to us is linked to another organisation who have not yet been able to demonstrate compliance in this area.

Can anyone translate that into English for me?



The other organization is Greenpeace. They haven’t shown that the video clip is not political. Because of course it is. Why would Greenpeace even want to demonstrate otherwise, as that was its intent?

Which was nlmost certainly known by the supermarket chain. There’s no way they didn’t realize was a political ad. It was likely done just for this viral purpose.

That said, it’s a good ad, Bront.
posted by darkstar at 3:02 AM on November 9 [9 favorites]


One of the stipulations enshrined in the broadcast code for advertising practice (BCAP), is that an ad is prohibited if it is “directed towards a political end”.
So ending deforestation is a political end, then? And have all those corporations - manufacturers, ad agencies, mining companies - "demonstrated compliance in this area?"
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:03 AM on November 9 [18 favorites]


The creative submitted to us is linked to another organisation who have not yet been able to demonstrate compliance in this area.

Can anyone translate that into English for me?


"The creative" is the commercial itself. There are rules about politics in advertising, and an organization who helped make the piece needs to fax something to somebody before it clears those rules and can air.
posted by rhizome at 3:04 AM on November 9 [2 favorites]


Hmmm. It seems to me that it is just an explanation that the store will no longer carry palm oil products because they received a letter from a young child after an ape home-invasion (after an ape-home invasion).

Not political; they weren’t suggesting the orangutan should be given refuge.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:05 AM on November 9 [14 favorites]


In another example (there are so many) of how weird this country is, here's another Christmas Ad. However, despite also coming within the same timeframe as the 2003 Communications Act, this one was not banned - it's for cake.

(personally I like it as I have a weird sense of humour and it features a vicar eating cake, but it is easy to see why many viewers recoiled at it)
posted by Wordshore at 3:20 AM on November 9 [10 favorites]


I really like that the UK does not allow any advert with political motives, no matter how innocuous, so I'm giving this thread immense amounts of side eye at the moment.
posted by Eleven at 3:24 AM on November 9 [4 favorites]


Except that deciding where to buy things (or even if to buy things at all) is an inherently political act?
posted by basalganglia at 3:52 AM on November 9 [9 favorites]


They are quite correct.
Adverts are not the place for political comment, however subtle they may be.
Advertisers get away with far too many dubious things already.
posted by Burn_IT at 3:52 AM on November 9


Two things:
1. The UK has very strict rules over political ads, and if/when they can be shown. This is fine by me.
2. I do not think that "don't destroy the environment" is in any way a "political" message.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:55 AM on November 9 [25 favorites]


Also, was it considered too political because it's about environmentalism, or was it considered too political because it's an allegory that we should open our hearts to refugees/migrants/people who don't look like us, instead of Brexit-style isolationism.
posted by basalganglia at 3:59 AM on November 9 [9 favorites]


The "palm" in Palmolive was palm oil which, starting with soap operas, has a long connection to television advertising.
posted by sjswitzer at 4:00 AM on November 9 [1 favorite]


You can't hygienically separate the "political" from all other activities, including speaking, working, buying, and even watching TV.
posted by stonepharisee at 4:22 AM on November 9 [10 favorites]


Yeah by the metric that arguing that palm oil should be sourced more sustainably is too political... So are all other ads.

Random ad for an Opel? That's a political endorsement of fossil fuel usage and the automotive lobby.
Ad for Quorn? A political ad against the consumption of meat and the livestock industry.
An ad that makes a point of having a PoC, woman, queer person etc in it? A blatant political attempt to force the agendas of anti-racism, feminism and queer lib down all our throats.

Still, we can't expect anything different.
"capitalism is post-political now?"
They've been trying to claim that from day one. We are meant to accept that capitalism is a natural human state and not question whether it is a specific way humans organise production, one that, by dint of placing most of the means of production in private hands, makes any act of business inherently political.

Instead, it's only when you go against the grain that it's seen as political. Don't serve sex workers despite legally being able to like a lot of financial institutions? That's just business.
Suggest you might change your supply lines and imply your method is more sustainable? Radical politics which can't be tolerated.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 4:35 AM on November 9 [22 favorites]


Yeah, the idea that encouraging people to think about deforestation is 'political', but encouraging them NOT to think about it somehow is not political, is... completely wrong, and almost completely unquestioned. It's a very careful Overton-window positioning.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 4:39 AM on November 9 [23 favorites]


I was very confused by the idea that there were palm trees in Iceland but apparently that's the name of a supermarket chain.
posted by octothorpe at 4:45 AM on November 9 [3 favorites]


Earlier this year, Iceland became the first major UK supermarket to pledge to remove palm oil from all its own-brand foods.

Did they stop selling other brands containing palm oil?
posted by pracowity at 4:56 AM on November 9 [6 favorites]


Yeah by the metric that arguing that palm oil should be sourced more sustainably is too political... So are all other ads.

Not to mention all the ads for charities working with child poverty or healthcare. Why is child poverty such an issue? Why are charities needed to supplement the NHS? Seems like those are the result of political decisions.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:59 AM on November 9 [11 favorites]


I was very confused by the idea that there were palm trees in Iceland but apparently that's the name of a supermarket chain.

Quite a relief for the kids who thought their mum had left the country.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:01 AM on November 9 [1 favorite]


Did they stop selling other brands containing palm oil?

And now I have a sad. Yay, bare minimum!
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:58 AM on November 9 [1 favorite]


That is a nice ad with beautiful animation.
posted by 4ster at 6:00 AM on November 9 [2 favorites]


Did they stop selling other brands containing palm oil?

To be fair, they'd go out of business in a week if they did.
posted by opsin at 6:16 AM on November 9


Pfffft. I don't hate it because it's "political." I hate it because it's greenwashing.
posted by Miko at 6:20 AM on November 9 [5 favorites]


The ad is fantastic and was powerful enough to get my 14 year-olds son thinking about the consequences of our actions, which is quite something.

I really don't understand the judgement. This time of year is when lots of TV ads appear soliciting donations for humanitarian appeals and I'd say all of those are political since the situations they are trying to relieve pretty much all have political origins.

Quote from Iceland themselves: “We have said repeatedly we are not anti-palm oil, we are anti-deforestation.
We think this is a huge story that needs to be told. We always knew there was a risk [the clip would not be cleared for TV] but we gave it our best shot.”

They knew all along this might not air, but (cleverly I think) knew they would generate some great coverage regardless. Between their recent vegetarian / vegan ranges and their pledge to remove all plastic packaging from their own ranges by 2023, Iceland are suddenly making some big, positive noises. It's a surprising but welcome set of moves from a company that a few years ago was known more for being cheap and cheerful.
posted by dowcrag at 6:21 AM on November 9 [7 favorites]


Miko: "Pfffft. I don't hate it because it's "political." I hate it because it's greenwashing."

That would have been my first reaction without any context.
posted by octothorpe at 6:25 AM on November 9 [1 favorite]


I really like that the British don't have election ads, which is what I think of when I think of 'political' advertising. deforestation shouldn't be political.

That said: I've been following the palm oil / deforestation in Borneo thing for a while, and rather than boycotting palm oil entirely, there is an effort to instead proactively shop brands using sustainable (and orangutan-safe) palm oil. Nutella has gone this way, according to my local zoo.
posted by jb at 6:32 AM on November 9 [3 favorites]


I really like that the British don't have election ads,

They do but they are tightly regulated - off the top of my head they can only be shown during a specific period in the run-up to a general election, broadcasters are required to show them at specific (prime) times, and they are required to show ads from all "major" parties.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:39 AM on November 9 [1 favorite]


What a sad state, that a desire to save the planet and the wonderful diversity of creatures that inhabit it is seen as "too political."
posted by xedrik at 6:56 AM on November 9 [6 favorites]


I suspect this is down to boxticking and not-my-job-ism more than anything else, for those wondering why charities are seemingly held to a different standard.

Charities are regulated in the UK. Their primary purpose needs to be charitable, for the public good, not political. They can engage in advertising, and even carry out political activities (lobbying etc) where it serves their primary charitable purpose, but it can't be their primary purpose. That's how charities are able to do things that otherwise could be classified as political (advocating a specific policy position on a particular issue) because it's not their primary function. They do have to ensure it directly impacts upon their charitable purpose though, they can't just do ads about random topics.

Greenpeace isn't a charity AFAIK, though they do operate one. So they fall under more general rules about political advertising; if I hazard a guess, it'd be this advertising restriction
"influencing public opinion on a matter which, in the United Kingdom, is a matter of public controversy" which would cover both environmentalism and immigration (sigh).

Late stage capitalism isn't a controversial* public topic, ergo 'buy more stuff' ads are not political.

*Though it probably should be.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 7:01 AM on November 9 [3 favorites]


Turn on the TV in the UK this week and remembrance, poppies and the historical and (especially) political circumstances around it are jammed into not a few, but many, programs. Sometimes appropriately, often not, very often not in a subtle way, and definitely relentlessly.

Which makes the Iceland ad decision seem even more counter-intuitive in comparison.
posted by Wordshore at 7:14 AM on November 9 [4 favorites]


The real question: does Iceland have a supermarket chain called Britain?
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:29 AM on November 9 [4 favorites]


I for one am not just anti-deforestation, I'm anti-palm oil. One time when I ran out of Hobnobs from the UK, I bought some from an American supplier. They were similar, but unlike the British version of the time were made with palm oil, and thus had a disgusting greasy taste made all the more apparent by coming as a surprise to my unsuspecting palate. Palm oil ruins everything.
posted by sfenders at 7:30 AM on November 9


I was very confused by the idea that there were palm trees in Iceland but apparently that's the name of a supermarket chain.

No but apparently there are some banana trees
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 7:55 AM on November 9


It's a nice trick that the only speech allowed on the airways is happy-buy-things speech. That's not political at all. [an unending sigh at this timeline]

Same as any other timeline really. As I am reminded of a Joe Strummer comment from long ago and far away -- that the Clash weren't any more political than Duran Duran, they were just more noticeable because they weren't arguing for the status quo.
posted by philip-random at 8:12 AM on November 9 [4 favorites]


Gorillas on film (two minutes later).

But I would shop in a store that did this stuff properly -- eliminate the bad products (not just their own brand) and explain (on a website and aisle signs) exactly why they weren't carrying everyone's favorite shampoo and snacks.

The hardest part about being an ethical consumer is having to track stuff the store could track for you. Don't make every consumer read every list of ingredients. Just let us all assume all the products in the store were ethically made because you are an ethical company that makes an effort.
posted by pracowity at 8:24 AM on November 9 [2 favorites]


Ethical consumption under capitalism is a myth, has always been a myth.
Make the changes that cause you no inconvenience if you want, but don't believe the inconvenience you experience is reflected back in anything but the faintest of echoes.

Palm oil will stop being an issue when we outlaw the deforestation etc and have rigorous checks on all supply chains. Till then, if it's 1 penny cheaper to make a pound of product with palm oil, expect it to be there. If perception starts to lose them that penny then they'll spend a half-penny on greenwashing.

None of us have the time to be researching every element of our purchasing and adjusting our shopping trips around whatever the issue of the day is. For most of us, it's pointless lifestyleism that only weakens our capacity to organise around the core issues that might actually address these things.

There is just no conceivable way for a normal person to consume ethically under capitalism. Once you've cut out the palm oil, and the water-irresponsible nuts, gone vegan and whichever states you're boycotting, the crops harvested with blackmailed underpaid labour, the overfished seafoods and the whatever else, well, if you can afford to do all that and still have time to actually organise... You're either superhuman or paying somebody else.

I remember a comrade once laughing when I suggested that surely such "ethical consumers" wouldn't buy from non-unionised business, would they? Where would their principles be if they'd go out of their way for an Orangutan, but not the person serving them?

If you know something and it's no issue, sure. I do that myself. Nestle and Lindt are both sometimes easily avoidable here and I prefer not to if given the chance. It's not any kind of solution though.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 9:01 AM on November 9 [6 favorites]


None of us have the time to be researching every element of our purchasing and adjusting our shopping trips around whatever the issue of the day is.

But I do have time to shop at a store that does that research for me. And the store wouldn't have to be perfect, because nobody can be perfect. They could just promise to make a good effort to avoid the worst stuff and sell the best stuff. All dish washing liquids or dishwasher soaps, for example, might, in some sense, be unethical purchases, but some choices have to be better than others in terms of ingredients, packaging, and treatment of employees. On the assumption that people will just go elsewhere to buy soap to wash their dishes if you refuse to sell it to them any, the store could sell a selection of the better ones rather than none at all. If there isn't a place that rates consumer products that way and encourages stores to use their ratings when making purchasing decisions, there should be. Online stores could add a search filter to take care of it for you.
posted by pracowity at 10:06 AM on November 9 [2 favorites]


Adverts are not the place for political comment

"Gentlemen! You can't fight in here. This is the War Room!"
posted by splitpeasoup at 10:09 AM on November 9 [4 favorites]


There are stores that try and do things like that. It costs more to shop there though, and I can't afford that and wouldn't expect it of anyone else.
So maybe it works in select suburbs, but that's never going to challenge wider production. That's if you assume we can trust corporate salespeople on their supply chains in the first place.

I'm going to suggest that if the solution is "ethical consumption is for the rich"... it's not all that ethical, it's just a cop-out.

I want that store too. I want to know that the things I use in life aren't hurting the world or other people. I want everything to be like that though, not just my particular niche as a consumer.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 11:07 AM on November 9 [1 favorite]


There is just no conceivable way for a normal person to consume ethically under capitalism. Once you've cut out the palm oil, and the water-irresponsible nuts, gone vegan and whichever states you're boycotting, the crops harvested with blackmailed underpaid labour, the overfished seafoods and the whatever else, well, if you can afford to do all that and still have time to actually organise... You're either superhuman or paying somebody else.

“You tried your best and failed miserably. The lesson is: Never try.”
posted by Sys Rq at 11:13 AM on November 9 [4 favorites]


Or: don't waste all your energy putting out spot fires in your backyard while your house burns down behind you.

Or: don't bail out a dinghy with a teacup while it's still taking on water, then huffily say "well if you don't want me to bail I guess you're pro-drowning".

Or: don't operate as an atomised individual and try and affect the world through personal consumption choices when you could work with others & magnify your efforts a thousandfold.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 11:23 AM on November 9 [5 favorites]


I reject the idea that reducing harm is worthless when eliminating all harm is impossible.

I also reject the idea that this ad is more political than any other that extols the virtues of a product, service, or institution beyond its immediate value to the consumer. It's no more political than saying Brand X Yogurt comes in a biodegradable container.

(P.S. that Mr Kipling's ad is a bloody brilliant work of art, and anyone who has a problem with it either has no sense of humor or has never been involved in a bad Christmas pageant.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:10 PM on November 9 [5 favorites]


I reject the idea that reducing harm is worthless when eliminating all harm is impossible

Gonna be that guy: there's a name for the implication: Fallacy of Relative Privation.

"Greater crimes do not excuse lesser ones."
posted by rhizome at 12:32 PM on November 9 [3 favorites]


On some side notes: The name of the supermarket chain is Iceland? Really? Is there also a car tuneup chain called Venezuela?

Also, that's some really nice animation.
posted by zardoz at 12:52 PM on November 9


There are rock bands named after entire continents, so.
posted by rhizome at 12:53 PM on November 9 [4 favorites]


FFS. It's like something Trump would do. Rebrand an educational ad as a political ad.
posted by notreally at 1:33 PM on November 9


On some side notes: The name of the supermarket chain is Iceland?

They sell frozen stuff. It’s a pun.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:44 PM on November 9 [1 favorite]


They sell frozen stuff. It’s a pun.

Yeah, I thought it was cute.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:47 PM on November 9


There are rock bands named after entire continents, so.

but none of them are any good
posted by philip-random at 2:15 PM on November 9 [1 favorite]


(P.S. that Mr Kipling's ad is a bloody brilliant work of art, and anyone who has a problem with it either has no sense of humor or has never been involved in a bad Christmas pageant.)

Had some other feedback on that, so have just knocked up a post about it and a few other Mr Kipling cake adverts.
posted by Wordshore at 2:27 PM on November 9 [2 favorites]


There are stores that try and do things like that. It costs more to shop there though

It costs less to shop at Iceland, though. And yeah, if you care about class in the UK, then talking crap about Iceland is a weird way to go about it. I have a lot of time for Iceland because it's done all kinds of things like this even though it's catering to the very bottom end of the market. They pioneered the reintroduction of delivery back in the early 2000s/late 1990s, because its demographic skews poor and old, both groups unlikely to own cars, and they've made it work, and they've kept their city centre shops, because that's the place non-car users can get to them.

And yes, they've got 7 stores in Iceland, plus they supply other chains in the country, too.
posted by ambrosen at 2:47 PM on November 9 [8 favorites]


[AnhydrousLove, you've made your point.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:22 PM on November 9 [1 favorite]


I'll just point out palm oil was a valuable industrial product long before petroleum, and was a major impetus of colonial exploration/appropriation.

Also palm oil is a highly valued and delicious food oil wherever it's naturally cultivated, I believe; so much so it's sometimes eaten plain with a carbohydrate. The industrial product not so much.

In short, sustainable use excellent, despoiling plantation agriculture exploitive and destructive.
posted by glasseyes at 4:29 AM on November 10 [1 favorite]


There is just no conceivable way for a normal person to consume ethically under capitalism. Once you've cut out the palm oil, and the water-irresponsible nuts, gone vegan and whichever states you're boycotting, the crops harvested with blackmailed underpaid labour, the overfished seafoods and the whatever else, well, if you can afford to do all that and still have time to actually organise... You're either superhuman or paying somebody else.

Ok, so...I talk about this more than I should, but it's a thing...I live in China and have for a long time, and here, shopping "ethically" means buying the brand without arsenic, lead, rat feces, or whatever other archaic Gilded Age industrial poison we/you in the bourgeoisie West learned to mostly eliminate from our supply chains after much public outrage 50-100 years ago. Despite the enormous strides made in public product safety, people pretty much still pay a premium for "not actively trying to kill you". That's not to say green consumption and greenwashing are unheard of here; on the contrary, asbestos is "natural", the cotton of minerals donchaknow, and protect's your baby's fragile skin from burns and scaling without abrasion or irritation. (Ok nobody ever said that specifically that I know of but if there's a green angle somebody on Taobao will spin it. There are good reasons the crackdowns are so common and vociferous, and that people are so concerned with product safety here.)

The best way that I've learned to consume ethically is from my less-than-middle-class migrant & retired neighbors, the ones who cut costs on everything and ignore green concerns outright - buy secondhand, reuse, and stretch. Obviously that doesn't always apply to consumables, but for everything else, you can probably borrow a tool from your neighbor to make it, hire a repair person to fix it, or just do without. I fixed the zipper pulls on my suitcase with sock elastic, etc. I snagged a manual wind alarm clock from the 80's from the antique market. My rags and coffee filters are cut up t-shirts. I recently moved and I had to buy one whole new thing, a desk, and that from a cafe next door to the new place that's closing. I'm in love with my stainless steel dishes, cups, plates, bowls, the works. The old IKEA 1.5L thermos from the office lets me make a whole day's coffee at once, which means I can use a big French press + heat water in a gas kettle...it's basically breaking the tech down to component processes that are just as convenient, and can be done with equally convenient but fool-proof manual tech. I stopped throwing out my old clothes and did the Korean thing of "at home" outfits that are just my old worn out stained ugly clothes, with the result that I haven't had to buy more than the occasional piece for 3 years, because I rarely wear my "outside clothes" except outside, and most of those are capsule pieces. As with all things Chinese, apps, population density, and relatively cheap labor make it much easier to do this, but also having a neighbor who sells vegetables at a wet market to tell me what to do and how to cook food, living within walking distance of cheap, fantastic restaurants, and having friends who are into making liquor at home. If you have skills, share, if you have extra stuff, donate, if you need new stuff, check craigslist and the thrift store and swap meets first. If you don't know, find someone who does and ask. Etc. The less money you or people you preach to spend on new or processed stuff, the less you contribute to the proliferation of mass-produced crap, food or otherwise. Every little bit is progress.

I am a freelancer with money and time to spare, but the people I'm learning to do these things from aren't. Or maybe they're retired. But mostly they're just people who've learned to maximize what they have, and I'm an impatient perfectionist raised in the luxuriant materialism of the 1990's Midwest, and I don't find their methods onerous or inconvenient. I do find they come with a learning curve, and that is where my time privilege shows, but that's all it is. Skills can be learned, and every skill you master that replaces or reduces something you have to buy is progress. That, at least, is how I consume ethically.

My choice to pursue this has everything to do with politics. Fuck the corps. We live in a world where a lot of the time we don't even now how to cope without buying something, and that's half the problem. Good on Iceland for the savvy marketing and ethical supply chain decisions, but still. I'd rather just not buy it at all.
posted by saysthis at 11:01 AM on November 10 [6 favorites]


Well, it's official: I'm the world's biggest softie and ads for supermarkets make me cry. Carry on!
posted by zeusianfog at 11:41 AM on November 12


« Older John Dempsey’s Street Portraits   |   Figaro's Wedding for your Friday Newer »


You are not currently logged in. Log in or create a new account to post comments.