Iceland’s controversial commercial could become the most popular Christmas advert ever after tugging at the heartstrings of more than 30 million viewers.
The ‘Rang-tan’ advert, voiced by actress Emma Thompson, has been blocked from TV screens for being too political.
But after pleas from celebrities including James Corden and Stephen Fry urging people to watch the advert, it is now on track to become the most popular ever by the end of Christmas.
More than 870,000 people have now signed a petition to release the palm oil advertisement.
Celebrities have rallied to lend their voices to the campaign calling upon regulators to allow the ad to be screened on TV
The ‘Rang-tan’ advert has been blocked from TV screens for being too political
The commercial, originally produced by Greenpeace, features a cartoon orangutan and highlights the plight of the rainforest.
Clearcast, the body which approves or rejects adverts for broadcast on television and video on demand, said it was ‘concerned’ that the commercial ‘doesn’t comply’ with legislation on political advertising.
It added that Greenpeace had ‘not yet been able to demonstrate compliance in this area’.
Since Iceland posted the ‘banned’ video online it has since received thousands of shares on social media, which is not regulated in the same way.
The company tweeted: ‘You won’t see our Christmas advert on TV this year, because it was banned. But we want to share Rang-tan’s story with you… Will you help us share the story?’
The most popular Christmas advert on social media to date is Sainsbury’s 2015 advertisement featuring Mog the cat, which has more than 38 million views – a figure which could be surpassed by Iceland’s offering.
A petition to release the banned palm oil advert on TV has now reached more than 780,000 signatures.
Writing on change.org, Mark Topps said: ‘As a father-of-three who thinks this ad would help educate people about how their products are killing orangutans and their homes, I feel banning this advert is an injustice.
‘Please sign this petition if you too believe the ban should be overturned so that this ad can be on TV screens at Christmas.’
Actor Ralf Little is among the famous faces who have lent their support to Iceland
Since Iceland posted the ‘banned’ video online it has since received thousands of shares on social media
The advert is now on track to become the most popular ever by the end of Christmas
The advert focuses on the impact of palm oil on deforestation, and follows the supermarket’s decision to remove the product from all its own-label food by the end of 2018.
This comes as figures today show Waitrose lost market share as its sales dropped by 1 per cent, with more middle class shoppers turned to Iceland.
The frozen food retailer recorded 5 per cent sales growth and gained 0.1 per cent of the market as it appealed to a wider demographic.
Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said this was being helped along by the chain’s Christmas advert.
‘Nearly 37% of Iceland’s sales come from the more affluent ABC1 social group – five years ago this was less than a third,’ he said.
‘Its banned palm oil Christmas advert is tugging at the heartstrings of Britain’s middle classes and could translate into strong sales growth, especially if it manages to pique the interest of the half of the population who haven’t shopped there in the past year.’
A giant orangutan was today spotted atop a Christmas tree along London’s South Bank
Greenpeace said the commercial was not originally intended for television, but neither they or Clearcast were able to immediately confirm whether it had been previously submitted for broadcast clearance.
Iceland said it had spent £500,000 on putting its campaign together and insisted it had booked a number of prime-time TV slots with the full intention of having it cleared to air over Christmas.
Richard Walker, managing director at Iceland, said: ‘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.’